NehruvianDOOM is a the rap collective between MF Doom and Bishop Nehru, two relatively famous American rappers who have been putting out steady work for a long while. Most known for wearing a metallic mask on stage often and the classic album collaboration with Madlib(Madvillainy), few American acts have the underground following as heavy as MF Doom. Nehru is not quite as famous but has slowly been growing a steady fan base over the last two years. Hailing from New York City, he released his first mix tape at the age of 15 in 2012 and has gained praise from other famous rappers ever since. Nas recently signed Bishop Nehru to his new record label, Mass Appeal Records to confirm his growing popularity as well. As great as it may sound for a legend like MF DOOM to team up with a hungry new voice in the genre, the results are not quite up to par with past work from DOOM himself.
The sound coming off of NehruvianDOOM is truly different from most records music fans will listen to this year. The beats are a bit hard to follow at moments, becoming different songs at any given moment and shifting to bizarre vocal samples without any real warning. Despite that practice sounding visceral and interesting, the story being told never warrants such a treatment. If there were a definitive story follow throughout the nine tracks, there might be a sense of place for all the glitches present. However, the themes jump all over the place from song to song while also never really nailing any tones tangibly enough to become overly powerful.
That is not to say the whole record is a dud. There is a solid three tracks that hint that a grouping of these two artists could be solid in the future. “Coming For You” brings an old school feel that harkens back toward calling out the competition as many rap lyrics contain, while the beat feels like a West Coast tribute. Nehru has his finest flow of the record here, finding a home with the older tones. “Caskets” is the best track from the duo, featuring one of the few verses from MF DOOM himself. While also relying on older beats and tones, the lyrics are much heavier and darker utilizing more violence and malice as the backdrop. This is easily the most concise track on the album, using a great second half vocal sample that jives with the lyricism perfectly. “Om” leads off the record with it’s first true track to decent effect as well, using an odd vocal sampling about meditation and beat that feeds off of the fumes left by them. The cryptic messaging is delivered by Nehru to a solid level, even if his flow never quite fits the song.
The real issues with NehruvianDOOM have more to do with Bishop Nehru and MF DOOM having drastically different styles. DOOM is much more primal and grimy with his verses while Nehru is a bit too monotone and boring in comparison. This opposites attract idea might work if there was more MF DOOM to go around but he really does not have a large presence on the album. He clearly focuses more upon producing beats and creating sounds as opposed to rapping, which is disappointing. Bishop Nehru has good ability but nothing about his lyricism is very enticing or deep aside from a few moments. A handful of the songs suffer due to Nehru failing to a sing a chorus interestingly. “Om”,” So Alone”, and “Darkness(HBU)” are all songs that have poorly delivered choruses that drone on and on near the end to become brutally annoying. “Disastrous” ends the album on a low note as well, starting out as a solid song but an odd ending that kills the whole attack. The flows from both match the beat surprisingly well and aside from an annoying female chorus sample, the sound is perfectly fine. The problem comes in as the song fades away to more vocal samples that build to nowhere, ending the album on a pointless note.
Bishop Nehru and MF DOOM is an interesting mash up of artists in theory. Both have contrasting styles that could make for a solid good vs. evil premise. However, the beats are never quite crisp enough to create a visceral experience and the themes are too flimsy to hold the track listing together. There are good moments where both artists show off why they have or are gaining traction in the public eye, but NehruvianDOOM is mostly a misfire aside from the amazing album cover art.
3. Mean the Most
4. So Alone
5. Coming For You
8. Great Things