Clocking in at a brisk 12 tracks, Bishop Nehru’s Elevators: Act I And II has finally arrived. Produced by MF Doom and Kaytranada, the album is a relatively straightforward display of rap music’s core elements. In the words of Phonte from Little Brother: “Dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?”
The album, released independently through Bishop’s own Nehruvia LLC label, is broken down into two halves: Ascension and Free Falling. Ascension kicks off on a metaphorical note, featuring an intro skit with a quick conversation between Bishop and an elevator operator/concierge who directs him to what sounds like plush accommodations while noting Bishop’s reputation has been spoken highly of — many times, the key to a fast rise to the top.
“Driftin’,” “No Idea,” “The Game Of Life,” and previous single “Up, Up, & Away” featuring Lion Babe are breezy, jazz-influenced slices of high-life, with Nehru ruminating on the benefits that come with rising rap stardom. Throughout, Bishop’s old-school influenced, dense rhyme schemes highlight his status as a stalwart fan of 1990s-style, lyrically focused rap, while Kaytranada and MF Doom’s beats buttress his dextrous flow without falling into the tinny, repetitive traps much of similar backpack rap is prone to dipping into.
Of course, what does up, must come down. Free Falling, the second act, doesn’t get an elaborate skit, just a quick verbal note from Bishop before launching into the more urgent sounds of “Taserz.” It’s still jazzy, but the chords fall instead of rise, sonically reflecting the latter half’s theme even as Bishop’s rhymes begin to spill some of the more stressful aspects of being in the public eye.
“Again & Again,” likewise sounds more menacing, with eerie sound effects breaking through the spooky-sounding soul sample. Bishop spits punchline after punchline, stalking the track like a hungry cougar, as the beat escalates, incorporating more and more strident loops. The set ends with single “Rooftops,” a brassy final gut punch that ends on as much of a metaphorically high note as a music low one.
It’s a compact, but solid collection that’s well worth the listen. For fans who think that the youth of hip-hop have nothing to say, or who take issue with all the trap beats seemingly dominating the current landscape (they’re not, but that’s a discussion for another time), this is the album that can give them hope for the future. There isn’t one mumble on the whole set, but better than that, Bishop Nehru proves he can actually rap, and for that reason alone, you should hop in this elevator and take a ride. Stream Elevators: Act I And II below.