Nas voiced he was the future of hip-hop - and that’s all I knew. I hadn’t heard of Bishop Nehru until this music legend made his publicly prophetic recommendation. So I dived into Elevators with an untarnished opinion.
The album unfolds in two parts, giving it a theatrical feel. It opens with Act 1 Ascension, which announces that it’s an MFDoom/Kaytranada project. I’m already excited to hear what is coming up from these prolific producers. You can hear a faint oboe in the background and, by the second track Driftin’, the oboe flows into the melody with spacious percussion, creating a summer vibe.
No Idea is a fusion of jazz loop samples and hip-hop breaks that has a hypnotic momentum which intensifies in Game of Life, with a beautiful fusion of Latina, jazz and hip-hop. Sincere lyrics such as “keep your drive, keep your focus” just add to this already winner of a track.
Get Away is my favourite. It’s so catchy, danceable and singable that it just ticks all my boxes! It will elevate your mood, it will soothe a stressed mind and put a cherry on top of any other scenario you can think of. The key to this ethereal track is the lyric “I’m fine in my own skin.” It defies the typical aggressive and competitive nature of hip-hop and, instead, expresses positivity and awareness.
Up, Up & Away features Lion Babe and it truly delivers what the title suggests. Closing my eyes, I feel as if I am in a hot air balloon, flying peacefully. It has an ability to create sound that is relaxing without being boring or repetitive - piano and ambient strings and vocals are the foundation to this gem of a track.
Then we move on to Act 2 – Freefalling. Tazers is first up and there’s an extensive band backing this track as well as the subtle addition of a soft backing choir. Unexpected key changes and noises that evoke of birds paradise interject casually, keeping us listeners on our toes. Again and Again has a ’90s hip-hop feel that reminds me of Snoop’s early days. Great electronic synths militantly pop up with out-of-space stabs, then suddenly a crescendo of piano and drums! It really wakes you up. Honestly, this album is ever-evolving and the momentum is intoxicating. Suddenly, trumpets are added to the cacophony! It’s all very reminiscent of The Roots.
Potassium has reggae samples cut up over hip-hop breaks. This is my joint favourite with Get Away. It’s gonna be a difficult one to mix in a set because it changes pace and direction so much – but that’s what I love about it. Bishop kills the bars on this one. His flow is beyond liquid, it just melts and oozes all over the music. Rollercoasting has a West Coast vibe and really illuminates the depth of knowledge that these producers have. It has a real soul feel to it, bringing back the backing choir from Tazers and adding a synthesizer/piano loop and refreshing key changes – conjuring up a trip down memory lane - but with a Bishop twist. Rooftops is the final track - a true blues-jazz tribute. It feels like Nehru wants to showcase the band behind all the tracks and let them come into their own.
Summing up, each track has such a different feel. It’s so refreshing to finally discover an artist with a full spectrum repertoire! His lyrical ability to comment on society and popular culture without being aggressive or derogative, typical of rappers, Bishop Nehru really has excited me. I agree with Nas, he will definitely be lighting up the future of hip-hop.