- MC Nelson
BISHOP NEHRU began rapping and producing music at the age of 13. Since then he has opened shows for Wu-Tang Clan, signed to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records and become the student to the Mr Miyagi of rap, MF Doom. Not a bad set of achievements by the age of 21. To follow, Nehru’s released his full solo debut album Elevators which is split into two acts; Act I produced by Canadian DI Kaytranada, and Act II produced by MF Doom.
You can inhale the anticipation in the air as I pass through the yard of 24 Kitchen Street. Entering the venue my ears prick up to hear a favourite old school hip hop classic; I look up to see the DJ playing Black Moon’s I Got Cha Opin to an empty room. As the music gains volume small groups of people, in an assortment of bucket hats and MF Doom T-shirts, pile in to the room, which is lit up in red like an Amsterdam sex show.
Liverpool’s own MC NELSON is the first act of the night to warm up the growing crowd, combining harsh vernacular sounds of Scouse rap with slow-paced lo-fi beats; a signature style. He boasts first place in a time zone-spanning selection of support acts coming up, and continues to introduce the next act, a hip hop duo from Australia consisting of rapper REMI and his beatmaker SENSIBLE J. As they step up to the mics I’m anticipating what I call ‘Aussiemodo flows’, but to my surprise the spitting through the speakers resembles more of an East Coast American accent. Remi’s flow becomes symbiotic with the live drum kit as he draws in the crowd with elaborate lyricism and compelling choruses. The clunky beats are accentuated by symbols that crash on the basslines; I’m half convinced it’s about to break into Jump On It by The Sugarhill Gang. Remi begins building momentum towards the end of his set, but before finishing he steps back, allowing Sensible J to solo a West African-influenced rap in 5/4 beat – the tribal rhythmic style injecting a mass of energy into the crowd.
During the short break, laughter bounces over heads; there’s a cheerful anticipation of the next act. Suddenly an old school boom bap cypher of teenagers, SOCIETY OF ALUMNI, bounces onto the stage. The energetic collective of hand bopping juveniles with indigenous hip hop flows have me craning my neck to see which one has grabbed the mic. I engage in fascination as their style speeds forward in time, catching up with the beats we hear in today’s UK drill and trap scene.
Before I know it, the stage is clearing. BISHOP NEHRU steps up to perform, shirtless, sporting a camo jacket, black pants and green dreadlocks. As his track Rooftops kicks in, with twinkling piano samples over deep jazz rhythms, the presence of MF Doom travels around the room like a ghost. Then, the music stops. Looking awake and aware, Nehru stands on the speaker and recites his lyrics as if spoken word poems. As the crowd squeeze tight and consume his energy, the acoustic verse follows up with a fat bass drop. The beat resumes and incites a wild reaction among the crowd.
The entire night is full to the brim with energy, we’re constantly being moved along through a journey of his evolving style, from boom bap to oriental trap. The crowd is lulled into a state of controlled movement; we’re like an army of obedient followers. I can see drunken friendships forming, in the shared knowledge the Nehru on record is good, but he’s so much better in real life. The next tour will be huge – you’ll be awaiting it just like us.