By Raoul Biron, Staff Writer
Filmed by Cameron Johnson
A charged crowd met Bishop Nehru in the Field House on Thursday. The 18-year-old rapper opened for Logic at the concert organized by Student Committee on Popular Entertainment (SCOPE).
Nehru introduced the crowded gym to his frenetic hip-hop and set the tone for the night with a rapid-fire set. Undeterred by members of the audience who were getting pulled out of the crowd by security and arrested, seeking medical attention and getting into fights, Nehru rapped over darker industrial samples and tracks from his recent collaboration with MF Doom, “Nehuruvian Doom.”
The rapper from Rockland, New York ended his fevered half-hour set and left the stage, leaving behind an audience so frenzied that the headliner’s set was delayed. Logic’s roadie crew, police officers, SCOPE staff and private event security worked for about 30 minutes to control and diffuse the crowd.
“Logic will not go onstage until you calm down and back up,” said his roadie, addressing the crowd through the P.A. system.
Thirty minutes before he hit the stage, things were much calmer for Nehru. The wiry 18-year-old reclined in a hammock in his dressing room, a converted locker room filled with pizza and sofas, speaking candidly while the DJ Clinton Sparks’s tracks vibrated through the ceiling.
“Even if adults don’t really get it or younger kids don’t get it, kids my age kid get it,” Nehru said, speaking about playing college shows. “That’s cool, the fact that people that graduated the same year as me can relate.”
Nehru’s primary focus is on making an impact with his listeners. The artist mixes diverse influences and samples from wherever he can find them, drawing on various genres of music and literature to shape his sound. He often relies on just playing his iTunes on shuffle until something piques his interest.
“I started off originally making music with control over everything and that’s something that I definitely want to keep going over my whole career,” Nehru said. “The ability to have whatever sample I want, whatever drum pattern I want, whatever lyric I want.”
In May, the rapper Nas launched the independent record label Mass Appeal Records. Bishop Nehru was among the first three artists signed to the label. Nas, an artist that Nehru credits as a major influence, will produce Nehru’s upcoming album.
Despite a prolific body of work and a growing presence in the music industry, Nehru still maintains a wary distance from the business side of things.
“I like making music, but the music business is corny,” Nehru said.
Even in his short career, Nehru has found himself struggling to find true artistic freedom without making commercial sacrifices.
“You can never just have your vision the way you see it,” he said. “I mean, I’ll probably just hang with this until I’m big enough and then just put out music whenever I want. I want to get to the point where I just put out mix-tapes and people will hear it.”
Walking through the Memorial Union Building after the show, Nehru talked about upcoming concerts in Japan, poetry in high school English classes and incorporating what he’s learning about spirituality in his music.
“I just involve a lot of the things that I read,” said Nehru in a WUNH studio after stopping in on sophomore Peter Kane’s radio show. “I happen to read a lot about different religions and spirituality as far as consciousness; being more conscious, and how to raise your consciousness.”
Bishop Nehru isn’t worried about his legacy in the hip-hop industry but continues to fight to get the recognition needed to branch out and spread his message independently. He produces his own tracks, films his own videos, and tries to reach as many people as possible.
“I try to put something in a positive aspect, whereas a lot of stuff that’s out right now is really negative,” Nehru said. “I try to just make something that feels natural.”