Stealing Cars With Bishop Nehru

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    Photo: Emily Korn
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    Photo: Emily Korn

As his music might have you expect, Bishop sounds mature for his age, speaking candidly and honestly about his goals and plans for the future while also acknowledging the inherent bat-shit weirdness of going from making music in between marathon video game sessions in your bedroom to opening for the Wu-Tang Clan in London on a tour celebrating an album older than he is. He talks about wanting to go to college to study film and says he’s been writing screenplays, mostly comedy and action shorts, which he taught himself to write by Googling, “how to make a movie.” It’s that self-sufficiency and drive that’s helped him gain the respect of so many rap veterans.

“Everything I thought about his style from when I first heard his stuff was matched when I met him in person,” explains DOOM on the phone from London. “His delivery, his whole rhyme scheme, I could tell he was a natural talent…I think he actually exceeded what I expected. The dude is a real smart cat. I can see him going far in this business.”

The question is this: How far does Bishop Nehru even want to go in this business? Though he’s visibly excited about working with DOOM, who he credits with inspiring him to be a better lyricist, and he’s psyched about the solo project he’s developing for after that—”I know it’s gonna be a radio smash,” he says about one song—there’s a sense that Bishop’s restless brain can’t be contained by hip-hop. At multiple points in our conversation he says he’s “mastered music,” and he becomes most animated when we talk about his favorite movie directors (Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow, Steven Spielberg) and his other ongoing obsession: video games.

To feed that passion, we decide to hit up the local GameStop; despite his GTA prowess, Bishop doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, so we ask his mom, Natasha, for a ride. The store is nestled in a large strip mall that bears all the hallmarks of suburban ennui: Sleepy’s, Bed Bath And Beyond, Michael’s. It’s exactly the type of pleasant but unexciting town that sends a brainy kid into his bedroom where he can create his own fantasy world. “Did you reserve more games?” asks Bishop’s mom as we draw closer. He mumbles a response.

Inside the store, he’s back in his element, eyeing games he’s either already played, like Borderlands 2 (“I hated it”), or ones he wants to play, like NBA 2K14. At one point while staring at the games on display, he points out the newest WWE title on the shelf and I ask Bishop who his favorite wrestler is. He quickly makes his pick: Goldberg. This is a very Bishop Nehru-vian selection: Goldberg was a bald juggernaut who barreled through opponents with a determined and mechanical efficiency; he also won the WCW Heavyweight Belt in 1998 when Bishop was two years old and peaked in popularity before Bishop was ten. I tell him I watched Goldberg’s title match live on TV and he looks at me like I just emerged from a time-traveling Delorean. It’s like for a moment he forgot the 1990s were real. —Dan Jackson