“The Ghost and the Darkness”, is a seven song album by Bernard Kyng & Andre Hando – two independent artists who merged their talents together in this collaborative project to display what hip hop was, is, and can be. Besides their studio work the Californian-based pair also perform live to sustain and confirm their recorded claims. The album “The Ghost and the Darkness” is about building bridges between hip-hop’s legends and the new rising icons, who are shaping the next wave. Where Bernard Kyng & Andre Hando’s peers have angrily demanded to be respected by the newcomers, the duo invites them to coexist. In doing so, they create room for themselves in a new era and do a solid job of showing their contemporaries how it’s done. “The Ghost and the Darkness” is a clinic in adapting to a changing industry and retaining the freedom necessary to do what you love.
Kyng and Hando’s respectful, all-embracing approach to the evolution of real hip-hop suggests that somewhere beneath the growing pile of impassioned arguments plaguing the genre, might lie the reconciliation necessary to elevate the art form. The duo’s collaborative album continues to build on hip-hop’s time-honored tradition of raw beats and well-worded rhymes with meaning.
But old rap this is not — at least, not exclusively. The concept of Kyng & Hando’s recordings, are built on the concept of sonic innovation while still maintaining the genre’s intrinsic principles. They mine the organic-sounding vibes of the past, but then break it down and reconstruct it using their own soulful signature style.
What ensues over the resulting 7-track collection is partly a history lesson, and partly a new hip-hop manifesto. That much is already clear from the extremely smooth album opener, “Official Grind”, which is filled with a variety of elements from both old and new school hip-hop.
“Ivan Drago” boasts a funky urban pedigree which the duo threads together with the rich lineage of hip-hop. Sonically “First Service” is a bridge-builder between the current generation of singing emcees and veteran trill OGs, with its amalgamation of hard rhymes and mellifluous melody. “Life’s a Beach” on the other hand signals the crossing of that bridge into total harmony and melody, with a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a John Legend album.
In fact it certifies that these guys can really sing, and don’t need any auto-tune to achieve that either. And then as if to prove they can really rap hard too, “Randomz” comes along as a mature embrace from the nineties, one that counters the dismissive mumble rap we’re currently getting used to.
“The Ghost and the Darkness” never defaults to redundant sounds. From start to finish, the smorgasbord of beats covers a wide range of moods and temperaments, going back and forth through sonic eras. “Red Leather, Yellow Leather” is as futuristic in its sound, as it is reliant on retro rhyming attitudes.
Bernard Kyng & Andre Hando leave the best for last, as to my mind, the liberation anthem, “Amistad” is the most enthralling track in the mix. Soulful, powerful, outspoken and ruthlessly rampant in its rhythm and rhyme, this arrangement will get you up and out of your seat and fist-pumping within eight bars. This is the best closing track I have heard on any album all year.
Without a doubt Bernard Kyng & Andre Hando breathe new life into the rap and hip-hop formula with the album “The Ghost and the Darkness”. Having said that though, simply calling this a rap or hip-hop album, would be reductive, as there is so much more going on here…