A talented rapper from Rochester, Minnesota, Lil Bando spent his first few years in Ethiopia and Kenya, before eventually moving to Rochester where he started a new life. Taking life by the reigns, Lil Bando has pushed to make his name in the rap scene, taking lead from the legends of old to create his own contemporary sound.
A prolific writer, Lil Bando’s Soundcloud and Spotify pages have become treasure troves of visceral rap cuts and lingering beats, showing his evolution as an artist through layered arrangements and inspired collaborations. One of his most recent releases, ‘So Bad’ has been carving its own path through the contemporary hip-hop scene for some time, amassing several thousand streams on Soundcloud alone. Bearing all that in mind, it seems only right that we put ‘So Bad’ to the test.
Opening with an ambient, steady build, the single pushes forward with a soft melody, creating an instant emotive weight that draws you in from the first few bars. With a crackle of autotune and a swarming, almost layered stream of vocals, ‘So Bad’ creates a unique and unmistakable sound. IT’s an intriguing mix of steady, percussive beats, swirling, nuanced melodies, and vocals that ebb and flow, wandering through the mix with their own direction and energy.
It’s noticeably rough in its construction and vocal, relying on autotune and a solid beat to save it, and to some extent it works, delivery a cascading and involving energy that you lose yourself in, but those rougher edges never really fade from view. Lyrically, the track offers some insights into the life and times of Lil Bando’s, but you constantly get the sense that there is so much more that can be said. Probably best described as accomplished, but somewhat underdeveloped, there is an undeniable charm to the track that struggles to make itself known, creating a disjointed sound that clashes with the smooth flow the track is pushing for.
Far from a bad song, ‘So Bad’ simply suffers from a lack of production and noticeably separation between the backing beats and Lil Bando’s lyrics. It’s a flaw that grows more noticeable as the crescendo comes into view, and while it can be ignored, it stops the track from making the impact that it could. A strong foundation for something more, the subtle trap influence holds you focus and keeps you engaged with the track as best it can, but ultimately ‘So Bad’ only scratches the surface of what Lil Bando is capable of.