The room was filling up slowly, but surely. What room, you ask? It’s no ordinary place. It’s the interior occupying Jazz Cafe’s spaces that is Camden’s intimate music venue. Based upon the wardrobe of the restless audience, it sure looks like they have come from a street style blog of some sort. Anxiously waiting for the man of the hour, the American rapper from New York, Bishop Nehru who takes the stage something around 9.30pm on Saturday, August the 4th.
Only a 21-year-old, real name Markel Scott, is set to represent the new generation of great rappers to save hip-hop. Yes, he is young, but his music has been around ever since 2012 when his first EP ‘Nehruvian’ dropped. While still living the lifestyle of a teenager, Bishop was releasing music each year, with one of the more recognized projects being a joint album with the producing legend MF DOOM titled ‘NehruvianDOOM.’ Other than that, Bishop toured with names like Wu-Tang Clan, Earls Sweatshirt, and Nas. This year, he’s come with his debut solo album ‘Elevators: Act I & II’ that he is taking on the UK and European tour as we speak.
Few moments after Bishop has stepped off the stage after playing a sold-out show in London; wearing black and red chequered pants with a ‘f*ck Trump’ printed tee, we sat down in a tiny room for a chat. Bishop still buzzing considers this solo show in Jazz Cafe as a milestone. Comparing it with the intimate London gig, he then mentions a Poland show from a previous day: “Oh, Poland was so sick, was a lot of energy there, and I crowd surfed a bit,” he giggles.
UNRELEASED. EMPEROR. PROD BY ME. pic.twitter.com/L0diWj7okK
— emperor nehru ➕➖ (@BishopNehru) August 3, 2018
Taking it to the early days of Bishop’s career, he released his first EP ‘Nehruvian’ at only 15-years-old. For a high school student that is utterly excited by music, Bishop shares some bits of his beginnings: “I was always into music since I was younger and it was around middle school when I started to record myself, and I was on and off with it and I never took it too seriously. Then I got to high school, and I started to take it a lot more serious but it was fun at a time. I was just putting everything out more seriously, actually putting the cover art like rolling it out my own way. Like talking to fans, ‘it’s about to drop,’ and then I build up a fan base. I posted on forums and getting traffic like that”.
Dealing with high school drama is hard enough, but Bishop was building a fan base and wanting to start a career. His answer to the question of balance was surprisingly honest: “It was kind of hard honestly that’s why I ended up stopping going to school and ended up getting my degree outside the school because there was a lot of distractions outside of school every day,” he admits.
Bishop’s name is also often celebrated for opening up for the one and only Wu-Tang Clan during their 20th anniversary European Tour. Besides being it an once in a lifetime experience, Bishop’s learn a lot: “It was definitely legendary and special for me. It was a great experience I learned a lot, like controlling the crowd wise, watching Method Man controlling the crowd, you just learn a lot when you’re watching the veterans doing it for years before you”, he replies full of gratitude.
Following a general interview with Mass Appeal, Bishop signed to Mass Appeal Records after saying he was a big fan of Nas. At this time, Bishop also worked with the legendary MF DOOM with whom he joined forces for their collaborative album ‘NehruvianDOOM.’ Four years later and Bishop’s protege mentor DOOM is a producer on his debut solo album alongside the 26-year-old Canadian, Kaytranada.
The whole ora around Bishop and his personality is quite mature due to his conscious perception of life, dreaming, the physical and metaphysics. His debut solo album ‘Elevators: Act I & II’ is based off a dream Bishop once had. Being terrified of heights, as well as roller coasters it was quite rare for Bishop to dream about elevators: “I had a dream I was in an elevator, and the elevator was continuously going up and down like a free fall, and it just felt real. Right when I woke up, I tried to figure out what the dream meant. Once I had an idea of what it meant to me in my head I wanted to make into a concept for an album”, he explains.
Instead of free falling, like the elevator in Bishop’s dream, this album should prompt his career at a faster rate than anticipated. Having it split into two parts, one produced by his mentor DOOM and the other part by Kaytranada already secures a worthwhile project. After spending time together on ‘Elevators: Act I & II’, Bishop shows pure love for their work: “Honestly it was pretty similar cause we all have a similar kind of vibe, all laid back and just focused on music. I honestly feel like Kaytranada is going to be on that level, he’s as talented as DOOM, and I told him in the studio, but he’s real nonchalant, he won’t even accept it as a compliment. But I really think he’s that good of a producer”, he applauds them.
A massive part of Bishop’s persona is his spirituality and urge to read and research unconventional topics like metaphysics. For example, before his London show, he meditated with a few breath-in and breath-out exercises. Otherwise, he likes to meditate with candles, looking at the candle flame and watch Youtube videos with different frequency sounds. Bishop’s reasoning is quite simple: “I feel like there are times when I need to do it to ground myself and just to relax. But there are also times when I just meditate and think about the things I want to accomplish, things I want to get done, manifest and turn them into reality”, he replies with a simple law of attraction.
Speaking of universal laws, they’re one of many concepts Bishop is very invested in. Wanting to elaborate on the whole law of attraction, he anxiously searched for a full list of all seven universal laws to continue the discussion. Start off by expressing his disappointment in himself how he forgot one of the more important laws and went on by listing them: “Correspondence, polarity, vibration – how did I forget that, gender, Rhythm, cause and effect, mentalism and that is the first fucking law and I forgot it. The first law is that the universe is mental all is in the mind”, he says with sparks in his eyes.
The elevator dream was not the only one that has stuck with Bishop until this day. It’s the dreams that happen to him in real life and create a deja vu feeling. One of the more significant was as follows: “I was listening to Tyler the Creator’s album when I was falling asleep, and in the dream the music started playing, and it was like the weirdest feeling because I was in sleep paralysis I couldn’t move or anything, but I was riding my bike in my front yard. This is the only thing I remember. Then I remember waking up the same exact music playing in the dream was playing in my headphones. Things like that make me realise its all just one plan for existence, everything just unfolds, and the universe is mental, everything is in the mind”, Bishop says convincingly.
There is no doubt these topics are interesting, but not everyone stumbles across them. Bishop being spiritual since an early age tells how he got into all of this: “I always researched stuff when I was at high school. When growing up I was never really into religion at all, and that was weird being at middle school, and you’re walking around talking about Jesus like I don’t really believe in Jesus. Once I was saying things like that people were trying to cast a stone on me for it, but I went even deeper into it like ‘nah I’m not bugging for thinking like this.’ I started to think like this just because of that amount of things happening in life. You start questioning things. It was just like reading certain stories, and books, I started watching lectures. Now I don’t really pay attention to the physical reality. I tried to focus on metaphysics. It makes people not understand how I view things, because I’m not really looking at it from like an earthy perspective. I kind of look at it from the universal aspect. I feel like the Earth is just an illusion like the matrix, so that’s how I look at the world in general”.
“So now you’re just excited for the afterlife now?”, I ask.
“Pretty much,” he says.
Karolina Kramplova | WRITER