One Person Class: an interview with Bishop Nehru

Lauren Schwartzberg

Bishop Neru

Try to find a 17-year-old kid who knows exactly what he wants from life.

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Wait. Wait.

Stop; it’s a waste of time. Looking for that person is probably about as hard as meeting a high schooler who adamantly says he never wants to try alcohol or experience getting drunk.

Yeah, right.

But, this person exists. I found him in Bishop Nehru, the hyper-accomplished, alcohol-avoiding, 17-year-old producer, rapper, and director.

“A lot of people don’t know what they want,” he says, a truth seemingly wise beyond his high school years. “A lot of artists have to have somebody tell them what they want, I’m an artist that already knows exactly what I want.”

So far that drive has garnered him critical acclaim on mixtapes like Nehruvia: The Mixtape and Nehruvia: StrictlyFlowz. His deep, hypnotically slurry voice spits out quick-witted rhymes revealing a take on the world apparently beyond the grasp of a high schooler from upstate New York. Nehru is in a class of his own, “All I do is make music and watch movies,” he said. “This is what I breathe—really.”

These days he’s breathing on two new projects. One imminently forthcoming collaboration with the prolific MF DOOM called NehruvianDOOM where Nehru will rap over DOOM beats. Right after that he’ll release another solo work, fully produced by himself called Ununderstandable.

It’s a Nehruvian world and we’re all just living in it.

When did you start making music?

I started making beats at about 13. I’ve been writing for a while, but recording-wise probably one or two years now.

What do you think about being so young in this business?

It sucks. I don’t think anyone understands me as a person. The stuff that I say— people don’t feel it like I feel it. That’s how everyone is though. I could never feel your nice. Like you could say something’s nice and it could be a completely different perspective than my nice. It’s weird. It’s a big switch and I’m really introverted. I don’t like being out or even hanging out too much, so me having to go out to parties and go after shows to stay and mingle and stuff—I’m not used to. It’s a learning process.

Are you still in high school?

Sort of kind of. I’m not physically in school, but I still do the work. It’s kind of a weird situation. Once I turn 18, all that’s going to be abolished.

Do you want to go to college?

So badly. That’s one of the main experiences I want. I want to go to college so bad.

Where?

I don’t even think it matters. When I was younger I wanted to go to Syracuse. West Virginia probably or some school in Cali too. I want to go to school for directing or something art-related like mixing—something that I know I’ll like. I don’t want to just do anything.

Do you drink?

Nah. I’ve never drunk in my life.

Do you want to?

I don’t like being around drunk people, so I couldn’t image myself as being a drunk person.

Why don’t you like being around drunk people?

I think it’s self-explanatory—they’re drunk. They don’t have any control over what they’re thinking, what they’re saying, what they’re doing. I like to have as much control—not bossy control, but knowing what’s going to go on next. With drunk people, you don’t know what they’re going to do next.

Is your music very planned out?

Yeah. Before I started writing anything, I came up with a plan of how I was going to do everything. Everything’s kind of coming together nicely how I seen it, but the steps to the plan? I don’t think I should reveal it. I got to keep the plan a secret.

You’ve been working on a project with MF Doom. What do you think about performing in a mask?

I would love to. Actually, when I went out to London I was going to come out in a mask, but I didn’t have one yet, so I’ma get one.

What’s it going to look like?

Something creepy. It would be something that would make people be like what? Why does he have that on? I want to do something that gets the people immediately. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, actually. Expect to see a mask.

Any other performers you’d like to emulate?

Actually, my first live performance I had ever seen was Kendrick [Lamar] at Roseland Ballroom last year, just a couple months ago.

So you started rapping before you’d seen any shows.

Yeah.

Wow. How was your first show experience?

It was amazing. It was dope to see Kendrick because I’m a fan of Kendrick and I’ve been a fan of Kendrick for a while, so for that to be my first show was cool.

Did you perform before you ever saw anyone live?

My first show might’ve been the day after the Kendrick show. That whole week TDE was in New York. The first day was Kendrick, then Ab-Soul and Schooolboy Q. I think I saw the Kendrick show and then opened for Ab-Soul and then opened for Schoolboy.

How do you prepare your live show?

I just go on stage, to be honest. I go on stage and just talk, be myself, be you. Nobody can ever doubt you if you being you.

Do you get nervous?

The first show might’ve been the only time I was nervous, but I don’t think I was really nervous. I think it was because it was my first show. I don’t think I’ve been nervous. That’s awesome to say.

Who else do you want to work with?

I would work with basically anyone who makes good music. I’m a producer as well and sometimes I make beats and I could hear somebody on it right when I’m making it. Like, Nicki would sound nice on this one or Kanye would sound dope on this one—whoever it may be. When I make beats I don’t listen for myself, I listen for others.

Do you ever send your beats to anyone?

I want to. I haven’t done it yet. I’m kind of working on recording over mine so I’m the first one with it and then I’ll give them out to everyone else.

Anything else you keep hidden?

I love Easter eggs. I got a lot of them in my music. Growing up, I was a big fan of Roller Coaster Tycoon and stuff like that—building my own empire. When I was playing it, there was a bunch of Easter eggs you could do like bringing out go karts. I was like, How do you do this stuff? It rubbed off. Now I always have to do something that will give a hint to something else, but people won’t notice it until this next thing comes out. Then they have to go back and listen to it. I’m really into sneaking things in and making my story mischievous so people have to think about it.

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