Oct 17, 2014

#NehruvianDOOM album review by @Niles_C

It's a tale as old as time.

Young upstart in a particular industry wants to take his craft to the next level, so he seeks out and is mentored by a reclusive legend of said industry that is revered as a legend. No, this isn't Star Wars or Finding Forrester. It's NehruvianDOOM, the new collaborative album from 18 year-old Rockland County NY rapper Bishop Nehru and well-respected hip-hop MC/Producer/Supervillain. MF DOOM. While DOOM (born Daniel Dumile) has had long-running career with many album and many aliases, he's somewhat known for his critically acclaimed collaborative albums. However, he hasn't had a release for two years so one would think it would take someone with supreme talent or potential to get him back in the studio.

Enter Bishop Nehru (Markel Scott). Despite his first release coming in just 2012, Nehru has already collaborated with 9th Wonder, had his second mixtape hosted by Peter Rosenberg, opened for Wu-Tang Clan, and went on tour with Nas and was subsequently signed to Mass Appeal Records, Nasty's label. Rather than being of the "turn up" generation of young rapper, Nehru is cut from the same cloth as Joey Bada$$ (more on that later). Any Bishop Nehru release thus has been backed by golden age beats and fortified with complex and thoughtful verses. So an apprenticeship with MF DOOM is match made in heaven.

The album starts with the proverbial Intro, which combines classic boom-bap style drums, a laid back and natural groove, and two different vocal samples; one talks about meditation and one is from the movie Aliens (which has a character named Bishop). This essentially lays the foundation for the album. We then move Om which was a single/the first song you received if you pre-ordered on iTunes. This has a more hyper beat and a hook by DOOM. Nehru showcases his lyrical dexterity which will be displayed throughout the project. Mean the Most uses a swanky horn section while Nehru raps about teenage love. He also sings on the hook which is acceptable given the nature of the song. The song once again features dual vocal samples and a beat switch in the last third of the song.

So Alone has a lush and dreamlike beat, complete with harps and flutes. Nehru raps very introspectively and talks about his feelings of isolation and loneliness. This time the self-sung hook doesn't work as well as it almost seems to slow the tempo of the song. Perhaps he meant to do this. On Coming For You, the tempo of this villainous beat actually slows down and speeds up throughout the song. It can be a little distracting and the hook is kind of middling, but the content of the beat and superior lyricism save it. Darkness (HBU) was the first single and is possibly the best song on the album. Doom creates a stupendous beat rife with scattershot drums, grand horns, and one of the best basslines that I've heard in years. Bishop Nehru takes advantage with a smooth yet aggressive flow and his trademark lyricism. The latest single, Caskets starts with a verse from MF DOOM. It's his first on the album. He steals the show on this one, undoubtedly giving his fans flashbacks. Nehru more than holds his own, showing once again that when it comes to wordplay, he has the goods.

On Great Things, Bishop declares that he'll live up to his potential and understands where he stands. DOOM comes in on the second verse and dispenses some sage-like advice to his young protege. Dangerous was actually produced by Madvillain (DOOM & Madlib) and grooves well enough that it sounds good enough to have been on their underground classic "Madvillainy." DOOM once again bats cleanup with the second verse, and the beat and two vocal samples from the intro come back to close out the (regular version of) the album.

If you're like me, you bought the iTunes Version which includes the final track They Say Bishy Bish which is the only track on the album MF DOOM didn't produce. Bishop Nehru actually made this beat, which contains a playful organ and minimalistic drums. The hook is probably the best one on the album and the song overall serves as a bridge to the young MC's forthcoming solo album stating "The game is in danger, we hear you the savior." It's lighthearted and brought some fun to the album.

Let me make this much more clear, if you're an MF DOOM fan hoping to hear the masked MC spit through the majority of the album, this isn't for you. He's on four songs total. One of them was strictly a hook. This album instead serves as a coming out party for Bishop Nehru. The New York noob has show his appreciation and his ability to rap on golden era-type beats. His lyrical style and flow is tailor made for DOOM's beats and overall vibe. You'll hear Nehru compared to Joey Bada$$ in terms of style. Fortunately hip-hop is big enough for both. When it comes to new NYC rappers Joey is Peyton Manning (excellent teammates) while Nehru is Tom Brady (supremee coaching/guidance). This album maintains a consistent vibe all the way through without having all the songs sound the same and is one of the best collaboration albums in a year full of them. Even the vocal samples work, and not just because I'm a huge fan of the film "Aliens" which is where half of them are from. Meditation is an omnipresent theme in the album so the samples have relevance. I just wish it was longer, as the ten track iTunes edition clocks in at about 36 minutes. Nehru's hooks could stand to be stronger, but I chalk it up to part of the learning curve and the fact that this album featured no guests outside of Madlib assisting on a beat. In a world where Atlanta's stranglehold on hip-hop is slipping, NehruvianDOOM will be the catalyst for East Coast hip-hop to once again reign supreme. Bishop Nehru is one of the best new talents in the game and he shines on this album with guidance from a veteran. Rating 4.4 out of 5.

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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