Hailing from upstate New York, 16-year-old rap tyke Bishop Nehru released his impressive Nehruvia mixtape last week (which you can stream below). Over 12 tracks, the project features Bishop (who named himself after ‘Pac’s character in Juice) dropping his buttery flow over instrumentals by MF Doom, Madlib and J Dilla–a choice of borrowed production stock that has seen him cop early comparisons to Flatbush young ‘un Joey Bada$$ whose own 1999 tape plucks from a similar heritage. So with the buzz about Nehruvia beginning to build, and with plans to follow it up with a Strictly Flows EP and a production project, we gave Bishop Nehru a call after school hours and chatted it up about forging his own identity in a post-Pro Era New York rap realm.
Have you been pleased with the reaction to Nehruvia?
It’s been pretty cool so far.
What’s the worst thing you’ve heard said about it?
That the production wasn’t up to par, I thought that was the best part. They said the production wasn’t too good. They just said overall the beats on the tape were bad. Well, not bad, but plain.
You rhyme over some instrumentals by MF Doom. When did you first come across his music?
I’ve been listening to MF Doom for a while now. He released this thing called Special Herbs and it had all his beats on it and I just wanted to rap over them. With Doom’s production, I like the whole digging through samples and all of that. That’s cool to take a one-off and make it into something else.
What about Doom as a rapper?
He’s a very good rapper. That’s one of my inspirations rapping wise and production wise, with songs like “Rhinestone Cowboy.” That song is amazing. Also, “All Caps,” but I don’t wanna say that ’cause that’s generic and it makes me sound corny. I thought Doom, honestly, the first time I heard him, I was like, “Who is this?!” I didn’t like it, ’cause his voice sounds a little muffled and weird, but as I kept on and got beyond that and realized what he was saying, I realized he’s actually a very good rapper.
Is it true that the first song you recorded was a version of Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”?
Yeah, how do you know that?
Yeah, yeah, “Crank That” was the very first beat I ever made. I used the same program that he used to make his beats and I found the kit he used. Then there was a steel drum and after that it was just adding the kick and the snap. That’s how I did that.
Was it hard to recreate a Soulja Boy beat?
It wasn’t easy ’cause I was new to the program so it took like four or maybe five hours. But once I got the steel drum down and I found the hit I was good.
You were bragging on Twitter about trolling Soulja Boy recently.
Ha ha, he released a new song last night and I tweeted him like joking around, like, “Oh that song was amazing blah blah blah.” And then he tweeted me and followed me!
You’ve also been bragging about your skills at the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Yeah, before I started making my music professionally I was a big video game head. I’d just sit there all day and play video games. The first game that I got on the release was Modern Warfare 2. I used to play online a lot and do game battles and stuff like that.
Have you ever played against any other rappers?
Are there any rappers that you think would be good at video games?
I mean, people say Soulja Boy, but I doubt it. I think he might be okay at sports games, but shooting games? I don’t think he wants it. Oh, Joey Bada$$, ’cause he said he used to be a video game nerd too so he’s probably good.
Would you be confident of taking on Soulja Boy and Joey Bada$$ in a tournament?
Ha ha, it would be no contest.
Talking about Joey Bada$$, some people have compared your mixtape to his music.
I mean, it’s not a bad comparison–it’s not bad to take that as a comparison–but I think at the same time it is a bad comparison ’cause I don’t feel like my music is equivalent to his. Maybe like the sound, obviously, the old school style of rap, but other than that I don’t see how they want to compare me.
Do you think it’s laziness, ’cause you’re both young and you’ve rhymed over MF Doom and Madlib songs?
Yeah, I do think it has something to do with that. They hear the same type of drum pattern and the same double entendres and they think it’s all the same.
So what’s the biggest misconception you’ve heard about your music so far?
The biggest misconception is that it was inspired by Joey Bada$$.