Bishop Nehru: The Teenager Taking the Rap Game by Storm
If you walked into Sutra in NYC late on a Wednesday night while DJ Tony Touch and Tedsmooth were doing it well (shout out Cool James), you’d get to hear them spinning Kool G Rap’s ‘Fast Life’ or DJ Kool Herc’s ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’. In other words, you’d hear enough classics to make that early Thursday morning a proper #TBT. A great DJ or artist will take the most infectious part of a song and make you fall in love with it all over again by redressing it in a new style; like you always do for you and your boo on your anniversary, right? Well, that’s what 18 year old Markel Scott has been doing since he was tall enough to ride a rollercoaster. You may know Markel as Kelz Scott, Kile Kanvas, Bishy, Emperor Nehru, Roland or by his most famous moniker; Bishop Nehru. Regardless of how you refer to him, he’s been earning the respect of internet critics and working on an album with one of hip hop’s luminaries, MF DOOM. Bishop Nehru has been straight up stealing and reformatting from those before him, like those before him, in order to guarantee a doper tomorrow.
For the better part of this decade, Markel Scott has kept busy in his suburban New York neighbourhood, creating music videos, beats, philosophies and flows. And I’m not talking your flows, Corner Boy #812. I’m talking flows that are getting mad props and hand daps from Kendrick Lamar. It all made sense after he received nods in fickle online forums like Odd Future Talk and Hypebeast. Mid 2013, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Radio 1Xtra’s DJ Semtex extended their clout and hosted ‘strictlyFLOWZ’, Bishop’s second mixtape as an emcee, or what he has labeled as his “parody demo tape.” In between all that, he squeezed in turning 16 and opened up for Wu-Tang ClaN in Europe for their 20th Anniversary Tour.
At this point, Mass Appeal’s godfather Nas brought Bishop out at SXSW ‘14 as the “future of music” to perform new music from his upcoming album with DOOM, ‘NehruvianDOOM’. If you Shmoney Danced for too long, you might have missed his collaboration with Disclosure and three track EP with Dizzy Wright, all made while he fielded advances from music labels.
With all of his accomplishments and attention aside, up to this point I had seen a lot of a pre-Roc-A-Fella Jay Z in Bishop Nehru. He was calmly cocky and finessing rhyme schemes that most emcees would stumble over. Similar to an early Hov, Bishop may not have had enough time to mature and unlock his ‘Reasonable Doubt’ self, or to tap into his life experiences deep enough to connect with the listener without sacrificing any entertainment value. In person, he is still very much the same person as when I first interviewed him almost exactly a year earlier in 2013. He finishes a popsicle before telling me about the hilarious, “green” friendly cartoon Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and the real life Shire in New Zealand.
His film school aspirations are still alive but have temporarily moved to the trunk from the back seat, as the rollout for ‘NehruvianDOOM’ looms and his to-do list (beat tape, solo project, music videos) grows everyday. With stock rising in anything stamped with Bishop’s name, fans haven’t had much new material recently to upload to their phones. And it’s bringing out his inner Captain Murphy: “I’ve just been feeling like I need to put out more music. I’ve been having fucking days in my room where I’ll sit and make random synth stuff and name it under a different name and think of uploading it on a different channel and shit.” The excitement for his eventual debut solo album, ‘Ununderstandable’, and work as a producer under the moniker Kile Kanvas is apparent as we momentarily avoid label rumours and what working with DOOM is like.
After several listens of ‘NehruvianDOOM’, it’s evident that Bishop is starting to realise his potential as an artist. Although it started out as a solo project for Bishop with production from DOOM, it transformed into a collaborative project with most of the rhyming handled by Bishop and production by Metal Fingers, with both dabbling in the other. The age gap didn’t deter the preservation of a strong mutual respect between the two while working in the studio. It began from their first meeting when they noticed that both had a labradorite stone in their pockets, an occurrence neither took as a coincidence. Bishop tweaked little to nothing on DOOM’s instrumentals, but revisited his own verses on more than one occasion. He admits that his lyrics resonate on a more personal level than on his previous projects. ‘Mean The Most’ shows that he’s in his “Kingly” stage of viewing women. By this, I mean that he praises the independence and beauty of his Queen, and in turn is willing and ready to go out and fight for a Kingdom fit for such a sovereign. On ‘So Alone’, Bishop gives us what sounds like a page from his journal by reaffirming his confidence to himself, to fill in the void left by his defunct crew, Suburban Shoguns. It is in this moment of vulnerability that his maturity shows most poignantly.
Words by Bryan Hahn
Illustrations by Ed Ruxton