Bishop Nehru’s new mixtape witnesses collaborations with MF Doom and Kaytranada, and the man himself has been called “the future” of rap music by Nas. A name still relatively unheard of however, Bishop Nehru is a slowly rising star and asserts this from the very beginning with the title of his new mixtape, Elevators: Act I and II.
Elevators brings to the table a style that, in comparison to previous releases such as Emperor Nehru’s New Groove, appears much more polished. The album works with smoother beats and slower flows than those present in New Groove, which used clips from the Disney cartoon ‘Emperor’s New Groove’ to support the album’s theme and direction, and thus had a primitive – some might say juvenile – tone. In contrast, Elevators sees the expansion of musical horizons by featuring jazz and rock, and in only 31 minutes showcases this underground artist’s tremendous skill as well as the range of influences he has adopted.
True to his personality, Nehru retains self-aggrandization from earlier albums in imitation of Kanye West
Nehru himself has said that he worked on Elevators with the intention of it being Grammy-Award-winning. Such ambition is reflected not only in the album’s theme of rising and achieving, but also in the stylistic qualities it employs. Returning to a more traditional basis, songs such as ‘Driftin’’ are accessible to a wider audience than older Nehru tracks like ‘Slap and Clap’. It is perhaps imperative at this point that we credit the work of Kaytranada and MF Doom; as producers, they contribute significantly to the album as a poster-child for sophistication amongst Nehru’s works. But this is not to say the album is so different from his previous accomplishments, with there being many stylistic similarities to ‘96 Blueprint’. Although Elevators is separated into Act I & II – the former produced by Kaytranada, the latter by MF Doom – Nehru has been able to combine their approaches, allowing continuity between the two acts of the album.
True to his personality, Nehru retains self-aggrandization from earlier albums. This vanity adds to the charm of Nehru’s work, and he is transparent about the inspiration taken from Kanye West in his lyricism. The samples which Nehru uses in Elevators are also more carefully chosen than those on New Groove and on tracks like ‘Light Leak$’ – strewn throughout the album are the sounds of an elevator, which in measure do work well alongside mellow beats. The use of brass and woodwind help to develop this mixtape further in its form, though we still hear skits, conversations and car noises, all of which are typical of Nehru’s light-hearted methods, and of hip hop.
Up, up & Away encapsulates all that Bishop Nehru stands for, and represents the real expertise of alternative rap and R&B artists
‘Up, up & Away’ is a personal favourite. Nehru has here introduced pacifying tones, especially in the first act, and Lion Babe’s feature adds further serenity to an already tranquil section. This track encapsulates all that Bishop Nehru stands for, and is a great representation of the musical expertise of underground alternative rap and R&B artists. Expressed by the artist himself, Pet Shop Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers influence the smatterings of rock present in this song and in ‘Again & Again’.
The production differences in the first and second acts ring loud and clear, with the second act engaging heavier tones. ‘Again & Again’ and ‘Potassium’ demonstrate this distinction, where the style and production of the latter in particular is somewhat reminiscent of old-school rap music. The way Nehru works with jazz and rock music in ‘Again & Again’, ‘Rollercoasting’ and ‘Rooftops’ evoke a variety of genres and again is representative of true hip-hop.
To conclude, the talent attested to here prepares listeners for the charisma of Nehru’s older work whilst exposing a surprisingly universal appeal. If you are a fan of alternative rap music (artists such as Goldlink and Quasimoto and members of Odd Future come to mind) Elevators comes highly, highly recommended.