Bishop Nehru Is Speaking a Grammy Win Into Existence
New York rap prodigy Bishop Nehru didn't get specific in February when he described his music as being "Grammy rap." He was probably waiting for his MF Doom and Kaytranada-produced Elevators: Act I & II album to do all of the talking.
Clocking in at 12 tracks and about 33 minutes, Elevators: Act I & II finds the 21-year-old wordsmith bending syllables and flows at every turn as he dissects Doom and Kaytra beats with technical precision. Kaytranada handles production on the project's first half, Act I. On the second, Nehru turns to his NehruvianDoom partner, MF Doom. All together, the diverse production—which can be as jazzy as it is futuristic—makes for one of Nehru's strongest efforts to date. So strong, Nehru can barely pick a favorite track.
"I have different favorites at different moments," the rapper tells XXL. "If I'm performing it or bumping it in the car or with headphones—it kinda depends on the vibe."
In a quick sit-down with XXL, Bishop spoke about his intention to create the rap version of Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, why he added Kaytranada to the mix of his music and whether he thinks he could pull off a sung album.
XXL: In a press statement leading up to Elevators: Act I & II, you made a distinction between "Grammy rap" and "mumble rap"? What's does the former mean to you?
Bishop Nehru: It was honestly a name I just wanted to give my sound—kinda like Kanye with "stadium music." It was just kinda like a way to describe my sound. I don't really think I was taking it that far to try to make it something against mumble rap. I actually do listen to turn-up shit. It was just a way for me to describe my sound.
As of the completion of Elevators: Act I & II, what is the sound of Bishop Nehru?
Grammy rap [laughs].
Have you seen MF Doom's face before?
What does he look like?
A normal guy I guess? I don't really know how to answer that. He's a normal guy.
How is Elevators: Act I & II inspired by the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album?
Just as far as the layering and the production. The vocals matching up with a lot of the stuff and the beats. Just the music theory of it. I use [Pet Sounds] for inspiration, for sure.
How does Kaytranada help you bring those Pet Sounds elements?
It wasn't really what he brought to it, I guess it was more so what I brought to it, because he didn't really have that same idea of Pet Sounds being the influence.
What did Kaytranada bring to your album?
Amazing production overall. The beats are amazing in my opinion. It's just a feel to be honest. He used to be a DJ, so I guess he just has a feel for what makes people move, what makes people's head nod. So definitely the drum patterns and stuff like that, for sure. They make you move.
What made you decide you wanted to work so heavily with Kaytranada?
We just had good chemistry when we linked up in the studio session we had. He pretty much just suggested we do an [LP]. He was down for it, so I was down for it. We cooked up a track that night so, the chemistry was pretty much there.
How did you sense that you and Kaytra had good chemistry in the studio?
He just had a lot of beats that were down my lane. I felt like even if it was anyone else I would still use the beat. So I feel like that was mainly what I was attracted to. The fact that he had a lot of beats that I would hop on.
Were there any artists you wanted on the project but didn't get to?
Not really. The only person I kinda really wanted on a song was Alicia Keys. Other than that, no one else really.
What would a Bishop Nehru and Alicia Keys collab sound like?
Well, it'd definitely have keys on it [laughs]. She'd have to sing the hook. I don’t know. We'll see one day.
If you had to rate Elevators on a scale of one to 10, what would you rate it?
15. I think that's pretty much every project I put out though, or else I wouldn't put it out. It's definitely a 15.
These days everyone's dropping joint projects. Is that something you're interested in?
Nah. I'm not really against it, it's just—I don't know. If the opportunity presents itself, I wouldn’t just be a dick and deny it for no reason. If it's a good opportunity with someone I'm cool with, and there's like, good chemistry, sure.
What's another level of artistry you feel like you can add to your music?
I feel like I could do anything, honestly.
Would you ever come out with a straight singing album?
I could. I'd think about it. I know I could sing, I'm just not confident doing it like I'm confident rapping. Before I wasn't confident rapping, I had to get confident rapping.
What are your plans for 2018?
I have the same goals every year. I just wanna win a Grammy, collect awards—stuff like that.
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