At the age of 18, Rockland County, New York product, Bishop Nehru, has flown under the radar crafting rhymes in a style reminiscent of New York emcees of the ‘80s and late ‘90s. The choice to trade mainly in what is considered a fading era of Hip Hop has earned him the attention of from the likes of Nas and MF Doom — the masked beat maker who teamed up with the young prodigy to release Bishop Nehru’s first full-length album, NehruvianDOOM.
Those familiar with DOOM’s work behind the boards and on the mic know he’s comfortable dealing in the obscure. He handles the production throughout the album, tossing in ‘80s-like cuts and drums, dusty Jazz loops, meditative chants and sometimes even a rehash from his own Special Herbs series (“Darkness”). As a result, the beats on NehruvianDOOM have a scatterbrain feel, with seemingly dozens of moving parts unlike the polished beats most are accustomed to hearing. Yet this seems to be the way DOOM the super villain likes it, with his non sequitur rhymes adding to the calculated randomness. Nehru counters with a more straightforward approach–for the most part rhyming about himself and his skills in thinly veiled metaphors.
“Winning with the bob and weave, and got the profit in the sleeve / They pocketing off of me, alright I’ll let it be / They’ll see in the soliloquies, they ain’t with me mentally / Born in a different league, so they see me differently,” he raps on “Om.” It’s an approach that casts him as the straight man to DOOM and balances out the pairing. Nehru does an admirable job of bending his rhyme scheme to the complex beats, even going so far as to sing on the album’s third track, “Mean The Most,” a moment of light in an otherwise dark album.
This song, like most on the album, allows each artist room for experimentation. For DOOM, “Mean The Most” is a chance to toy with background drums, a high-pitched trumpet and a minute-plus-long Pete Rock-esque outro that consists of a groovy sample overtop what sounds like the audio from a movie scene, opting to ditch the mic until later tracks such as “Casket” and “Great Things.” For the young rapper, the record is an opportunity to test his vocal skills, briefly singing on the chorus and focusing his gift of gab on words of love in what turns out to be one of the album’s standout tracks.
Fear not underground Hip Hop fans, for the parity on NehruvianDOOM finds the listener jumping from the lighthearted “Mean The Most” to “So Alone,” an introspective look at the life of the young emcee overtop a distinctly underground beat, before “Coming For You” introduces the listener to DOOM’s take on a beat that is one part Wu-Tang Clan, one part “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash. It is this innovative blend of various styles and genres found throughout DOOM’s beats that has helped him achieve the cult status he holds today, and this project is no different.
“Not from a golden state, but still a self-acclaimed warrior. Waiting for more euphoria, glory and all sorts of fun. Getting done more work than most ever do, my passion it pulls me through, so spitting writtens is food,” rhymes Nehru, quickening his pace to match the beat as he gives a subtle allusion to the producer’s food-themed albums. Here we see a return to underground Hip Hop’s tendencies to try and take on the world, with Nehru letting rappers, society and those that set its rules know that he has his sights set on them.
In just nine tracks, the duo have created a brief, quirky and dense project. It is an album that’s experimental in almost all the right ways, filled with well-crafted, albeit ominous beats mined from obscure source material and features an impressive one two punch on the mic. NehruvianDOOM isn’t the first attempt to recreate Golden Age Hip Hop in the 21st century, but it’s an exceptionally creative take on the now-classic sound that succeeds in offering an enjoyable — and at times quirky — listen.