Bishop Nehru & MF DOOM: NehruvianDOOM (Album Review)

Unlike other older genres of music, hip-hop hasn’t answered the question of what the music should sound like when the artists age. Coming up on 49, Dr. Dre has taken the route of producing and mentoring younger artists. Ice Cube (45) is now equally a hip-hop and movie name. Naturally, the hip-hop world is waiting to see what the 43 year old MF DOOM is about to do next. To many people’s surprise, he chose to work with a relatively unknown Bishop Nehru from NYC. The collaboration between a hungry, young Nehru and a seasoned, wise DOOM almost guaranteed an interesting album. Unfortunately, NehruvianDOOM is anything of the sorts.

Simply, the album is exactly what is expected to come from the combination of the two. DOOM, throughout his career has consistently maintained his distinctive sound. The quirky samples and skitterish rhythms from his own sound were brought over into this album. Tracks like “Om” start the album out incredibly strong. Without fail, I find myself nodding my head to the track. But as the album progressed, each track just seem to become more and more stale. Dark brooding basslines meld into one another; dusty dialogues just coalesce into each other. While the difference between tracks are noticeable, I find it difficult to recall a memorable moment later in the album.

Honestly, I was expecting to hear what I just described. However, I was hoping that the young Bishop Nehru would be able to breathe some fresh air into the album. On previous mixtapes, Nehru has come out sounding like a hungry and talented emcee. If anything, I expected Nehru to stand in good juxtaposition to DOOM’s lumbering flow. Instead of bringing the fast paced delivery that he tends to do, Nehru ends up mimicking his slower-tongued mentor. Don’t get me wrong his wordplay and delivery are still somewhat impressive, but it’s far from a man who is looking to etch his name on the scene. Even his previous usage of internal rhyming and enjambment are overlooked for a more sombre delivery. Perhaps it’s just me, but Nehru’s delivery fails to evoke any strong emotions.

This is not to say that the entire album is a bust. Amongst the cryptic beats and the slightly monotonous delivery, it’s easy to forget that the album still flows. The beats still make your head nod, the rhymes still catch you off guard at times. You’re still listening to good hip-hop. While the album isn’t groundbreaking, its musicality is still something that many people in the game are looking to achieve. Tracks like “Caskets” and “Darkness (HBU)” are almost as organic as a live band. The balance of humanness and precision of the beats make them ebb and flow. NehruvianDOOM’s shortcomings due to being too sombre help it sway. Very few producers can achieve the same effect.

Put on the record and you will see that it sounds like the album name suggests. DOOM’s witty flow and idiosyncratic beats still lay the foundation of the album. Bishop Nehru, in fact, also manages to capture this moody quality of DOOM. But in the end, the cool beats and mediocre verses are not enough to make this album exciting. Dr. Dre has seemed to help Kendrick make something groundbreaking; hopefully DOOM is able to do the same next time.

Purchase NehruvianDOOM by Bishop Nehru and MF DOOM on iTunes | Amazon.


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The author BC

Born in Singapore and raised in Minnesota. I'm an aspiring jazz / hip-hop musician who loves to do anything related to music. If I'm not composing or listening to jazz / hip-hop, you'll probably find me at a concert. My rule is simple: be willing to change your mind as it is the only way of remembering you still have one.