The Futurist: Bishop Nehru’s Got the ‘Juice’
After taking you across the Atlantic for Bipolar Sunshine last week, this week we turn our attention to Rockland County, NY and buzzing teenage rapper Bishop Nehru. The young spitter speaks with Kidd Future about working with DOOM, meeting RZA, jazz music and the film 'Juice.'
At just 16 years of age, Bishop Nehru has already wowed the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan and DOOM with his impressive rhymes and intricate flows. Born Markel Scott, this upstate New York wunderkind received rave reviews for his mixtape 'Nehruvia,' recorded at the tender age of 15. Sporting the classic sound of '90s era hip-hop, Bishop's poised to make plenty of noise for the duration of 2013 into 2014. Did we mention he has a project completely produced by MF Doom in the works? Not bad for a student entering his senior year at Spring Valley High School, huh? Let that sink in.
You're often labeled a "prodigy" and "golden child," are those fitting descriptions?
Bishop Nehru: I fully understand why those words are used to describe me. It's like when LeBron (James) was in high school and they were calling him a "freak-of-nature." When you're young and people see something special in you, [they] like to put a title on it.
You've toured with the Wu-Tang Clan and have a project coming out with MF DOOM, let's talk about the older generation co-signing you.
BN: As far as Wu-Tang, one day my manager [Leroy Benros] walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to open for the Wu-Tang Clan. My immediate answer was a "yes!" [Nehru opened for Wu-Tang Clan on their 20th Anniversary European tour.] The first time I heard a Wu-Tang song was probably 'C.R.E.A.M.' like five or six years ago. Over the years I kept hearing it and after discovering [other] classic songs it really opened up their catalog to me. During sound-check this year I got to talk to RZA, he asked how old I was. I remember telling him I was 16, his response was "Wow ... congrats! You're living it."
A lot of the older heads embrace me because they see a young kid strictly about good music and representing the craft and art properly.
Let's talk about the MF DOOM project. He only collaborates with a select few so what was the conversation between you and the masked legend like ?
BN: DOOM's people reached out to me and said they we're interested in working with me. I had played the Converse "Get Dirty Show" at the 100 club in London recently. We spoke there and DOOM was mad chill. A real cool dude. It is a dream come true to be honest. Seems like it was just yesterday when I was first discovered his music.
The recording process for the project hasn't started yet, we are getting everything finalized. [Recording] is going to be a mixture [remote and in-studio collaboration].
What was it about the film, 'Juice' that inspired you enough to adopt the name of Tupac's character in it?
BN: "Bishop" was about taking his respect. So that's what I'm on, I'm all about taking mines.
A few years ago I came across Tupac, he was really inspiring from the start. Just looking at the way he came across, he was real peaceful. I hope to accomplish world change, I want to be a change not only in Hip-Hop but in the world period. That's where the second part in my name comes in [Nehru comes from the last name of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru].
Kendrick proclaimed himself the "King Of New York" a few days ago, What are your thoughts on that?
BN: I don't care to be quite honest. I'm not a pawn. I'm not trying to be one of the weaker pieces in this game. I think the message he was trying to portray was completely taken out of context. I just think it was a reference to who everyone sees as the greatest like Tupac and Biggie, he feels as if he is one of the greats. Life is all about perspectives, that's how you get the best view, different aspects.
The current New York Hip-Hop scene is going through a bit of a renaissance . Would you agree?
BN: I would have to say yes. I like the sound from back then. This sort of boom bap sound has influenced me the same way it's influencing Joey Bada$$ and The Underachievers. But the New York scene is weird, a lot of artists from New York sound like they're from somewhere else. New York lost its identity in the hip-hop world in my opinion. It's coming back though ... Trust that.
Speaking of sounds I heard you are quite the Jazz head.... How does Jazz influence your making music?
BN: I Love jazz music. Not really a "jazz head though," like you couldn't quiz me. But I do listen to John Coltrane, Roy Ayers, Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws to name a few. I also enjoy a lot of different types of jazz such as, French Jazz as well as Bossa Nova from Brazil. I like the way instrumentation sounds, like it's great to hear a bunch of musicians come together with their instruments. Plus Jazz is real moody--you look at it differently when you are happy, sad, depressed or mad.
You co-direct some of your own videos. Is it for creative control purposes or something that really interests you? What's one music video that inspired you growing up?
BN: Creative control is very important to me. No one can tell or portray my story [like I can]. Only I can interpret what I feel. I was really inspired by Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video growing up. I could remember watching the video as a kid. It was more like a short film to me than a music video.
Most kids your age are worrying about their high school prom, not working on an album with MF DOOM. How do you balance the 16-year-old life with the life of a wordsmith?
BN: I have to do what I have to do to get to where I'm trying to go. I never really went out to events and such anyway. Who was I going with myself? (Laughs)
What's worse for you right now: math class or writer's block? How do you deal with writers block?
BN: Writer's block for sure. Not because [it] happens often, but when it happens it happens bad. I'll probably have writer's block for a whole week at a time. But it'll happen at least once every project. When you keep it real and write from the heart. Writer's block isn't a problem though.
How is 2014 looking? What is next for Bishop?
BN: As you know I have the project with DOOM coming out. There a bunch of other exciting things going on. Just can't announce or say anything yet. Be on the lookout for Bishop Nehru though, 2013 and 2014 will be huge for me. Peace to all my Nehruvians out there. Peace to everyone. Much love to everyone. The dream is getting real. One love.