Bishop Nehru is making waves
Introducing the prodigy whose flow is catching the ears of hip-hop royalty.
Bishop Nehru is sat, relaxed, on a leather couch next to one of the most iconic MCs in rap history. And due to the fact that Doom is producing the entirety of his forthcoming album, the fresh-faced 17-year- old New Yorker could be making trips to London more frequently. So how does he like it here? “It’s dope man” he shrugs. “It’s a nice place. The places to eat are cool, I like the french fries here … But the weather, sometimes I don’t like it when it rains, I don’t like the coldness.”
It’s not his first time on these shores. In 2012, Nehru impressed WorldStarHipHop (and subsequently, a number of influential rap radio stations) with an eight bar freestyle executed over DJ Premier’s beat for Mos Def’s Mathematics. Before he knew it, he was opening for Wu-Tang Clan at a London gig. “It was a great experience, and it was a dope show,” he says, “RZA was cool man, he asked how old I was, ‘cause obviously I look young. He was telling me that it’s great to be in the position I’m in for the age that I am, and that I need to just keep doing ‘me’ and having fun.” He’s since also struck up a bond with Kendrick Lamar.
It’s easy to see what’s got these high- profile rappers so excited – his insanely dexterous rhyming ability and dense lyrical content probably helps. ‘I’m like thee Spike Lee that’s under 19’, he rapped on Misruled Order, a lead track from his debut Nehruvia mixtape. It’s a grand comparison to make, sure, but the way he follows it by skilfully reeling off a few lines tackling racial prejudice, inequality and police harassment reassures you that this guy has studied his references.
It’s safe to say that Bishop Nehru is thinking on a deeper level than the average teenager. His moniker blends the name of Tupac’s character in the classic hood movie Juice with that of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. “In Global History, like 9th or 10th grade, we were learning about India, Ghandi and the peace movement. So after that, when I said the name Nehru, it just hit me in a certain way”, he explains.
Although Nehru wrote the Nehruvia tape when he was 15, he’d already put out material beforehand under another name. So when did he start making music? “Ah man, I don’t know, I was young though. I had my own rhyme books since like first or second grade. I was always into literature and poetry. Anything that had to do with writing, I was always into.”
Nehru’s passion for intricate lyricism perhaps explains why he’s so infatuated with 90s hip-hop. While the genre continues to evolve in weird and exciting ways, the auto-tuned garbles and nihilistic mono-flows coming out of Atlanta and Chicago don’t exactly prioritise thought- provoking wordplay. “My friends, yeah, they listened to the easy and simple stuff, the party music. But I wasn’t really into that because I’m not a party type of guy. I was always into lyrical music,” he confirms.
It’s a mentality which bodes well for the album alongside his masked mentor. And it seems Nehru’s not going be distracted by his new famous friends. “It’s not really open to collaborations any more, it’s just us two,” he reveals. “Word?!”, Doom exclaims, “Ahhh shit!”. It’s the first time he’s heard the news. And will Doom be rhyming on it? “Yeah, yeah I gotta do my due diligence”, he says, still smiling.
And since Doom has survived his fair share of battles with the music industry over the years, does he have any advice for his protégé? “I mean, he got a good team around him, he got a good head on his shoulders. He already got a lot of the pieces in place”, he says, turning to Nehru like a proud uncle. “Don’t let nothing stop you”.