Bishop Nehru And MF Doom Tap Into Their Strengths On ‘NehruvianDOOM’
The future is looking increasingly bright for New York lyricist, Bishop Nehru. At just 18 years old, Nehru has amassed an impressive catalog with his 2012-debut mixtape, Nehruvia, and last year’s follow-up, strictlyFLOWZ. Both projects were greeted with acclaim from the likes of Kendrick Lamar , as well as a simmering buzz from hip-hop’s underground landscape. However, despite this string of exalted success, Nehru’s biggest co-sign came earlier this year from veteran Queensbridge MC, Nas. While egressing from the Mass Appeal showcase at South By Southwest, Nas introduced the young wordsmith under the moniker “the future of music.” If this wasn’t enough, Nehru, alongside Boldy James and Fashawn became the first artists to sign to Mass Appeal Records, a joint venture between Nas himself and Decon co-founder Peter Bittenbender.
Bishop Nehru’s reign of success continues on NehruvianDOOM, a collaborative effort between Bishop and famed masked producer/rapper, MF Doom. After a prolonged introduction, the project’s first full-length track, “Om,” sets the eccentric and bizarre narrative early on for the rest of the album (something longstanding MF Doom fans will be familiar with). Nehru inaugurates himself straight out of the gate with some confident rounds, “If you saying that I ain’t nice you better think twice,” while Doom, who, elsewhere is on hook duty throughout the cut, channels his classic menacing and foreboding production.
“Darkness (HBU),” the album’s first single to be turned into a visual, appears just after the halfway point and is where Nehru activates his rapping prowess to the fullest. In line with the record’s title, Nehru touches upon the caliginous realities of the modern world, “Your aunt just got 20 years it ain’t fair / ‘Cause she pulled a gun out but she shot it in the air / Let’s prepare for all sorts of courses life offers / Think before you walk this land of cold forces / They want us on porches they us to forfeit,” he raps over the horn-heavy backdrop.
Elsewhere, “Caskets” and “Disastrous” also see MF Doom jumping in front of the mic alongside his protégé. The former, despite the eerie title, is smooth in its delivery with a teacher/student or father/son theme resonating throughout. Doom opens up the rapping with “the untold rules of the old school” while Nehru follows suit with his witty wordplay and dexterity on full show, “They told me I should focus on scholastics / And others told me focus on elastic / I’m suing both of those as a tactic / As I mix it with my passion for rappin.’” The latter, “Disastrous,” is the album’s final cut and features a single verse from both Bishop Nehru and MF Doom. The record is laced with one of the calmer and perhaps more uplifting beats on the project with smooth drums forming the underpinning.
On the production front as a whole, MF Doom’s sound is instantly recognizable. The British-born, Long Island resident doesn’t stray too far away from his archetype, yet, for those who are familiar with his discography, it’s evident that the sound employed on NehruvianDOOM is a little darker than on his previous collaborative efforts including, JJ DOOM.
Weighing in at a terse 32 minutes in length, spanning eight tracks plus an introduction, the album is a cohesive and methodical offering yet because of the constrained spin time, neither Bishop Nehru nor MF Doom have the space to flex their creative impulses and push the envelope in their respective spheres. While it’s gratifying to hear the duo stick to their established formulas and not poorly attempting to conform to pop platitudes, NehruvianDOOM suffers from monotonous chants (see “Coming For You”) and a simple lack of variety. From start to finish, the album stays anchored in hip-hop’s golden era, which will be enthralling enough for both Nehru and Doom’s core audience, however it’s difficult to see the duo noticeably expanding their individual fan bases, as the diversity to draw new consumers is somewhat lacking.
Despite this, and while it’s easy to pick faults with NehruvianDOOM, primarily because of the album’s stubborn aesthetic, one can’t help but tip their snapback to an MC that is not only demonstrating vast potential, but an MC that is still three years shy of the legal drinking age.—Henry Mansell