At the age of just 23 years old, rapper Bishop Nehru has accomplished quite a lot in his short life. From being headhunted by Nas’ label Mass Appeal Records to being featured twice on the 2K Sports NBA series soundtrack, he’s opened up for the Wu-Tang Clan on their 20th Anniversary European Tour and counts MF Doom as a close friend.
Far Out Magazine’s Mike Milenko had a Facetime conversation with the young lyricist during Lockdown and asked how he was coping with the enforced changes.
“It’s no different for me”, he admits. “I don’t really like going out, I’m just focused on making music. It’s normal for me, the same routine. The only difference is I can’t go to the studio.”
With so much focus on creativity, I wonder if one of Bishop’s goals was to become famous? “I don’t want to say no, I feel like everybody says that to sound cool. I wouldn’t necessarily say being famous was a goal. I don’t even feel famous now, to be honest. I feel normal, I feel like I’m known but not famous. If I am, maybe im just buggin’ and lookin’ at it different from everybody else.”
Taking stock he continued, “I just look at it like people know my music when I put it out. The goal for me, is to win awards and gain respect, I wanna be the greatest to do it and go down in history. People have to know you to go down in history, it goes hand in hand.”
Bishop was born 2 weeks after the death of Tupac Shakur and has used his character in Ernest Dickerson’s 1992 hood drama, Juice as his rap name along with the first Prime Minister of India: Jawaharlal Nehru. How had these men, seemingly worlds apart, influenced him?
“Well, everyone that makes rap music is influenced by Tupac. I feel the way he approached everything was different from the era of hip hop that was coming up. His story alone, outside of the music was honorable and has to be respected. There’s a lot of similarities between myself, Tupac and Nehru. Also, certain things I resonated with, the things they said, the message. I used it to inspire me.
With an ever-growing list of new generation rappers comparing themselves to Tupac; Kodak Black, Joey Bada$$, Lil Yachty, Lil Xan and the late XXXTentacion amongst the contenders, is Pac still getting the respect he deserves? Or perhaps more shockingly, is he even relevant now? “Rappers are definitely influenced by him. At the end of the day it’s a competitive thing”, reflected Bishop.
“Like I said, I want to be the best as well. If you’re not trying to be the best at what you do, then why do it? Michael Jordan felt the same way about playing basketball, he wanted to be better than Will Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant wanted to be better than Michael Jordan. It’s just what it is.”
“You’re supposed to aim for whoever’s at the top, try and be better than them. For those rappers to say that they are better than Tupac they are putting him on a level. They definitely respect him.”
Turning the camera to my collection of hip hop Funko Pops, I ask if Bishop collects any action figures.
“Word, I collect Funko Pops too! Mostly cartoon characters, I have Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty, but I got Lieutenant Ramathorn from Super Troopers too. I also have an Alfred Hitchcock one. I collect horror movie replica doll type shit, not the little ones either. I have an Ash from Evil Dead 2, Living Dead Doll, still boxed. I love that film. I pick up a bunch of them whenever I tour overseas. Other than those, I collect shoes and clothes (laughs.)”
Impressed with the collection of horror film replicas, I ask if he has seen any scary films recently. “I love horror movies, but I don’t scare easily. I just watch them to see what’s goin’ on in the movie with certain angles and cinematography, I watch them from a Director’s perspective.”
Bishop has made a name for himself by being uncategorisable, a desirable attribute these days. “I try to be versatile. I make as many things as possible because you never know what’s gonna land where. NBA 2K would never have happened two years in a row if the songs sounded the same.”
“2K19 had ‘Driftin’ on there, 2K20 had ‘In My Zone’. It kinda shows, the more spread out your catalogue is, and the more sounds you have in there, it’s not you trying to ride a wave, force a sound or go mainstream. There are different people, different fanbases that enjoy different things, I’m one of those people.”
“My sound is not defined. You can’t say ‘This is Bishop’s sound.’ I feel people don’t like that I can do so many different things. Some people tell me I need to put out more bangers, others say they want the lyrical music and I’m like, I don’t know. I may put out a project that’s just one or the other, but I’m never gonna stop expanding.”
But does that mean he listens to his own music? Yeah, definitely, I have a whole playlist of my own tracks, some released, others unreleased, about a hundred songs of my music that I have on shuffle.
“That’s why I’m confident doing as many sounds as I do. I listen to my own energy; I know that shit sounds good! I don’t want to be content with where I’m at. I want to be moving constantly. There’s a whole different world where I wanna take the music. I know my end goal and I know I’ll get there.”
We’re certain of that too. You can find all of Bishop’s live dates right here.