REVIEW: Quando Rondo works to find closure with ‘Recovery’
Quando Rondo remembers his friend Lul Pab with heartfelt new rap project
the basis of “Recovery” — recovering from loss and moving forward as a stronger person.
The 23 year-old rapper gained attention in 2018 for shooting hit music videos in his Savannah, Georgia neighborhood. The videos for “ABG” and “Scarred From Love” both have millions of views on YouTube, and 2021’s “Still Taking Risks” and 2020’s “QPac” are some notable projects by him. Quando even had a collaboration with YoungBoy Never Broke Again, his close friend and labelmate.
Quando’s distinctly raspy voice and soulful melodies are his trademarks. Whether it’s slow guitar, or a booming Louisiana rap beat, listeners can feel the emotion in Quando’s voice throughout his work. Quando’s heartfelt singing and quick flow switches make him one of the more versatile rappers of today.
In “Recovery,” Quando is at his best when he’s rapping and singing on happy gospel inspired piano beats like the one in “R.I.P. Phat Phat.” The song is a tribute to Phat Phat, another fallen friend, and it begins with Quando harmonizing to the soft piano intro. In the first verse he sings; “Why I'm so attracted? Can you be my best friend? / Nah, like lil shorty for real. / Ain't been the same inside my mind since lil somebody got killed.”
Quando then jubilantly jumps into the rest of the song as the beat rapidly picks up and drums come in. Throughout this track, Quando acknowledges the toll that Phat Phat and Pab’s deaths had on him, but also highlights the good in his life, rapping extensively about the fruits of his labor like “stainless steel audemars” and “lamb trucks.”
He also jumps on another gospel piano beat with his song “Vision,” and the two-minute track is a triumphant anthem about his success. The happily braggadocious hook is accompanied by lyrics about Quando's past life and his current state of mind; “Hurricane round my rollie. / No wonder, I'm ignoring all this pain, I ain't sober. / Yеah, serving caine with that toaster.” Despite the exultant energy of the song, Quando shows some more vulnerability with his signature mix of rapping and singing. “Blame” and “Lost Ones” are other songs on “Recovery” with similar gospel piano sounds.
Quando also sings on some guitar-led beats with mixed results throughout. “Me First” has a relaxed guitar chord progression, but Quando's singing feels awkward, and his cadence sounds amateurish. In “Cut You Off”, Quando finds himself on a soul beat that Omarion or Chris Brown might hop on. The slow tempo has a nice electric guitar riff in the background, but it’s one of the only standout parts of the song. Quando does in fact make a soul song, but the lyrics and singing lack originality — with the romantic lines sounding like ones you could find in any song; “When we beefing, I'ma cuss you out. / All around the world, I’m still at your house. / Cause I can't find a way to cut you off.”
The album has plenty of bright spots with reflective and story filled songs like “50” and “Long Live Pabb” as well. The only issue is that Quando's willingness to test unconventional flows and melodies sometimes don’t work out. “Where Would I Be” has a hook that’s particularly hard to listen to, as it simply consists of Quando singing “In the grave,” repeatedly.
Arguably, the best song on the album is “Speeding.” The slow piano beat and Quando’s impassioned hook gives the song a pensive tone, and the lyrics truly feel heartfelt. Throughout the track, Quando sings deep lyrics like; “Wrong or right, you know I'm riding, that's what left me sеasick. / I could never leave my brother, that's just on some G shit. / Ain't been the same since big bro Pablo left us all on defense.” Quando is true to himself in this song, no R&B attempts or strained vocal inflections.
Quando makes some questionable decisions on the way he uses his voice, but he’s ultimately able to shine throughout “Recovery” with his piano beats, signature lyrics and flows. Most importantly, Quando’s ability to keep Pab’s name alive with this project.