On the way up
At just 21 years old, Bishop Nehru has accomplished more than most artists ever will. From his six solo records to a strong endorsement from hip-hop legend MF Doom, Markel Scott’s résumé speaks for itself. Having just left Nas’ Mass Appeal Records, it appears he is ready to bet on himself. And on his latest release, Elevators: Act I & II, it appears that people are willing to bet on him as well. Kaytranada and Nehru’s mentor MF Doom handled production on this project, which presented Bishop with a tremendous opportunity to garner some hype around his name. The real question is, did he capitalize on this opportunity?
In short, yes, but it is a lot more complicated than that. While the highlights of Elevators are extremely impressive, the lack of cohesion and conceptual prowess on the part of Nehru does leave a little to be desired. Where songs like “Driftin’” and “Rooftops” paint scenic pictures in the listeners’ heads, songs like “Get Away” and “Up, Up & Away” ultimately feel forgettable and formulaic. The predictable flows and non-consequential lyrical passages on these tracks are at times disappointing to hear, given Nehru’s immense potential. Still, at 21, sometimes it is more important to focus on the positives and, well, there’s still a lot of them on this record.
“No Idea” features Bishop putting his fearlessness on display. The underlying vocal sample combined with the groovy bass line gives Bishop the perfect canvas to spew his ever-propulsive words. On “Again and Again”, Nehru is a firecracker of energy. His flow is as dynamic as MF Doom’s beat, which progresses from a standard drum and bass groove to a grimy brass explosion. Finally, the aforementioned “Rooftops” sums things up perfectly. A catchy saxophone tag-line paired with Bishop’s ambitious lyrical passage is an undeniable triumph that hip-hop heads will truly love.
Despite some of its flaws, Elevators: Act I & II is an impressive stepping-off point for Bishop Nehru. With some of the fat trimmed off of it, it really could have been something special, but regardless of that, there are some real gems on this project. With some time to mature, Nehru should be able to build off of this and reach the rooftops.