Bishop Nehru

Elevators: Act I & II

BY Kyle MullinPublished Mar 26, 2018

Bishop Nehru, Kaytranada, MF Doom — each beloved in their own right. So the prospect of them teaming together is enough to understandably garner plenty of hype from hip-hop heads.
Thankfully, they meet those expectations and then some on Bishop Nehru's latest release, Elevators: Act I & II. Merely by enlisting legendary New York MC and producer Doom and Montreal's hottest beatmaker of the moment, Kaytranada, the 21-year-old Nehru cements his reputation as a prodigious rapper. But it's not just a matter of impeccable taste on Nehru's part — the chemistry between the young MC and those elder producers is palpable. Indeed, traces of each of their well-established signatures and strengths are evident throughout, even as those elements congeal into something unique overall.
Best of all, however, is the eclecticism of the album. "Get Away," for instance, is readymade for the pop charts thanks to its airy, cheery instrumental replete with a rubbery bass line, crisp drums and zinging bell and whistle flourishes. Nehru rounds all that out with a breezily quotable chorus. Way on the other end of the spectrum is "Taserz." Tailor-made for lyric fiends, the track finds Nehru spitting triple entendres with the urgency of a live wire. In between those polar opposites are tracks like "The Game of Life," which is bolstered by both a hypnotically jazzy instrumental and narrative lyrics à la a Slick Rick classic or "Da Art of Storytellin.'" "Rooftops," is another vintage-sounding track outfitted with brazen vibrato horn blasts in a loop as tight as Nehru's flow. Then there's "No Idea," a braggadocio number on which Nehru spits about his bona fides alongside keys straight out of the '80s.
It's compelling fun to hear such a young MC exude so much familiarity and affection for golden-age tropes. That might hamper the LP among mainstream listeners fixated on Migos-style gloss. But Nehru already countered any such gripes in the lead up to this release, saying in a promotional statement: "What would you say your music sounds like? My answer to that would be 'Grammy Rap.' There's 'Mumble Rap' and then there's 'Grammy Rap.'" That award-alluding moniker seems well earned, given Nehru's brazen willingness to go against current trends and mine classic rap aesthetics with his cohorts, until they unearth shiny new finds.

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