A Talk with Brando Bambino
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Brando Bambino is a rapper based out of Puerto Rico who has been making hip hop for years. More recently, Bambino has released a series of albums including Bambino in 2020, Jules & Vincent in 2021, and now his latest record, Bandito, in August 2022.
Describing his sound, Bambino said: "I lean towards that East Coast, boom bap style. Dark, gritty beats and lyrically sharp, aggressive, disrespectful bars. I like to describe Bandito as the musical equivalent of Outlaw Comics. Raw, gritty, dark. I had a specific vision and focus when making this album. No radio records; no ‘strictly for the ladies’ type records. One of the lines from the song ‘Policy’ is ‘treat every track like a turf war’, and I think that accurately describes my approach to this album."
Bandito is fully produced by Pyramid Tapes, whom Bambino has worked with for years. He said: "He’s had at least one beat on all of my previous projects, but this was the first time we collaborated for a whole album. So, the chemistry was already there. Pyramid Tapes is based in New Orleans, so I would record what I had wrote when I visited New Orleans a few times a year."
The album contains a host of features, including big names like Planet Asia and Hus KingPin. Bambino said: "I just reached out to emcees I’ve been a fan of and who I thought would be a good fit for the tone of this album. I also got Him Lo from Da Buze Bruvaz on the album. They’re not on social media and don’t put their albums on streaming. Strictly physical copies and word-of-mouth."
Bambino wanted to make clear Bandito was a team effort. "I’ve gotta shoutout Man Bites Dog Records for believing in this Bandito album. Thanks to Pyramid Tapes and Burn&Loot for putting it together with me, and shoutout to Benjamin Marra who drew the album cover and really brought my vision to life."
Aside from Bandito, Bambino has worked with a variety of different artists. He said: "I released a single last year with Mickey Factz, who’s a super talented lyricist. I also released a single with Jameel Na’im X, a New Orleans emcee who’s really dope. I’ve reached out to rappers like SmooVth and Estee Nack, so you might see someone like that on my next project. And there’s an emcee from Cali, Flashius Canyon, who I have a track with that will be on the next album."
In 2021, Brando Bambino released a collaborative album, Jules & Vincent, with rapper Trot. Trot also made an appearance on Bandito. "I’ve known Trot since I was in first grade. He and my older brother were childhood friends who started rapping and making beats together when they were in high school. And, as the younger brother, of course I wanted to be involved and follow in their footsteps. We’ll definitely collaborate more in the future."
A range of artists have inspired Bambino over the years. He said: "Since I was a kid, my favourite was always Wu-Tang. I think they’re my biggest influence. Their run from ’93 to ’97 is still unmatched, and that’s the sound and energy I try to incorporate into my music. Of course, I love Biggie, Nas, Mobb Deep, and Hov, but they’ve inspired me more in regard to lyrics rather than sound. More recently, I’ve found inspiration from Roc Marciano, Conway, 38 Spesh, and a few others. On the production side, Alchemist, DJ Muggs, and Big Ghost Ltd have been influential."
Hip hop has always been a passion for Brando Bambino. "I’ve been a hip hop head since I was a young kid. I would record Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps on VHS and watch my favourite videos over and over. I would listen to verses until I had them memorised."
When it comes to the future, Bambino said: "I’d like to continue putting out physical copies of my albums. Bandito is the first time I’ve offered CD and vinyl. I want to continue working with people that I look up to as well as peers who I respect. Of course, I want to extend my reach, so if you’re reading this, follow me on my socials @BrandoBambino, check out my music on Bandcamp or, even better, cop a record."
Bambino has a clear purpose when it comes to making music. He said: "As far as my purpose for creating, I’d say that it’s therapeutic. It’s also a challenge – I try to evolve and get better and better. I write raps with the intention to impress myself first and foremost. I’m not trying to make hit records; I make the kind of music that I would want to listen to."
He went on: "For the most part, I don’t listen to ‘happy’ or ‘chill’ music. And I’m not interested in making those kinds of songs. I’m coming for your throat. If you’re a rapper, I want to hurt your feelings and make you wanna put down the mic and quit."