25 years is a long time in anyone’s book. But in hip hop? A quarter of a century has seen more evolution and incredible individuals than just about anyone can count. NehruvianDOOM, though, uses those 25 years quite beautifully.
25 years is the age gap between teenager Bishop Nehru and 43-year-old MF DOOM, the duo that form the refreshing NehruvianDOOM. While that should probably result in a clash of tastes and influences, the pair combine to produce the self-titled experiment that’s largely reminiscent of old school East Coast: perhaps due to the influence of the executive producer, the legendary Nas.
While DOOM was born in London, like Nehru he originates from New York, the city that’s currently a hive of exciting new talent like Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies: and the New York influence on NehruvianDOOM isn’t ignorable.
That’s not to suggest that Nehru, real name Markel Scott, is simply another NY rapper, because he isn’t afraid of opposing rock-hard stereotypes and themes as he does on one of the gems of the LP, ‘Darkness (HBU)’: “Moving thick bricks is not the only way to get rich”. It’s a simple sentiment, but it displays Scott’s willingness to challenge what most fresh rappers assume they should stand for. “Cruel world, all I’m seeing is darkness”, the 18-year-old spits on the track’s hook. It’s a prime example of his happiness to adopt an underdog position; only one with his eyes wide open and respect for what’s come before him.
Nehru’s respect for the previous generations, as well as culture, aren’t rare either. References to Jordan and Michael Myers will leave you wondering whether he actually is only 18, as he does on ‘Caskets’. “It’s H.O.R.S.E, I’m Jordan, ’96, I’m sinking everything man, still I’m playing for the chip,” he rhymes, to the mysterious beat that wouldn’t be out of place on one of Nas’ own early albums. DOOM himself actually appears alongside the youngster on that track, following on from an intro that declares the “young blood” will learn about survival from him. It typifies the LP’s mentoring tone, almost like DOOM is Nehru’s agent, revealing him to the world.
DOOM’s lyrical appearances aren’t frequent, but the veteran does appear with simple words of advice (perhaps to his own partner) on the penultimate tune, ‘Great Things’: “Beware of apathy and procrastination”. That acts as a fatherly warning to Bishop, who on the same song brags the deliberately cheesy hook: “Ima do great things, great things, so you can’t stop my dreams and my vision”.
Look out for the fast-paced unveiling of Nehru on ‘Om’, his hard-hitting, unforgiving declaration of his excellence. “I told them that son sick, they ain’t believe, winning with the bob and weave and got the profit in the sleeve” the protégé announces. Considering ‘Om’ is supposedly “the noise we make when we meditate”, it’s a remarkably explosive number.
‘Coming For You’ showcases a light-hearted touch DOOM has often shown before, with the cartoon-like echo of “Hey, here’s a magic message. Read it and pass it on!” It’s impossible to do it justice, but it’s a voice that should never work on a hip hop album, yet does. Don’t ignore the track’s quality though, because DOOM offers his teen partner the platform of his superb “Fo Ti” instrumental, recycled from previous album “Special Herbs”. Nehru again isn’t daunted by the heritage he’s faced with, telling us of his passion for his roots and his music, pointing out how good he is already.
The magic of NehruvianDOOM, though, is that the classy production that comes with MF DOOM’s experience would mean little without the youthful energy and raw, modernistic bars of Bishop Nehru. The simple compliment that Nehru sounds far older than his 18 years in those same bars speaks volumes of the skill involved in his work. Bringing a fresh touch to the genre while simultaneously producing nostalgic comparisons to greats is something I’ve never seen before, and working with geniuses like MF DOOM will only enhance his ability. His raw potential is there to be tapped in coming projects, but for the mean time enjoy this sublime production.