(AllHipHop Feature) In many ways 16-year-old Bishop Nehru is a typical rising high school senior. He enjoys playing NBA 2K, he names Brad Pitt’s World War Z as his movie of the moment, and he hopes to one day appear on one of his favorite television shows The Boondocks (“Aaron McGruder needs to put me on his show ASAP!”), but unlike a lot of his peers, Bishop is already effectively on the path to living out his dreams.
In a little over a year the Nanuet, New York native has gone from making no-budget, self-produced videos to sharing a tour bill with Ghostface Killah and MF Doom in London. The lyrical prodigy dropped his first mixtape Nehruvia last November, and now he is on the cusp of releasing his second official project Strictly FLOWz.
Bishop is hesitant to label his latest work a mixtape, referring to the collection of all original tracks as an EP. According to him, no matter how the project is defined, Strictly FLOWz will further shine a spotlight on his immense talents.
“This project is going to be completely different [from Nehruvia]. It’s a whole different side of me,” says Bishop. “I’m just giving people how versatile I am. How many different things I can do in music.”
Bishop (born Markel Scott) first began recording music as Kile Kanvas. He calls his KK days as a “test phase” where he experimented with his artistic voice. He eventually became comfortable with a Golden Era Hip Hop influenced soundscape and began uploading videos under a new name inspired by Tupac Shakur’s character in Juice (Roland Bishop) and Mahatma Gandhi’s Indian Independence Movement partner (Jawaharlal Nehru).
“I changed my name from Kile Kanvas to get a fresh start so people will feel like they’re getting a whole new artist,” explains Bishop.
The newly reinvented rapper shot a home-made video for his freestyle over Mos Def’s “Mathematics.” The Bishop version, “Languages,” somehow went viral on the net and the recognition almost instantly transformed the unknown teenager into an emcee the industry started to keep an eye on.
“It was weird when I checked my Twitter and I saw my mentions with a bunch of Worldstar shit,” says Bishop. “So I went to Worldstar and seen my video there. That shit was crazy to me. To see myself on Worldstar for a video I made in 10 minutes. That shit was incredible.”
Bishop directs and edits his own videos, he produces and mixes the tracks on his projects, and he writes and shoots short films. That level of on-hand commitment would be remarkable for a seasoned entertainment veteran, but the fact that Bishop has managed to accomplish those skills at just 16 is almost unbelievable. By the way, he is completely self-taught.
“I taught myself everything I know,” reveals the multi-talented artisan. “When I was trying to get into short videos I would just go on Google and type in ‘how to videos.’ It was mostly trial and error.”
Besides gaining knowledge from online lessons Bishop has also studied classic albums of the genre. He cites Nas’ Illmatic, AZ’s Do or Die, and Mobb Deep’s The Infamous as a few of the inspirations for his 21st Century take on 1990's rap. His appreciation for Clinton era New York Hip Hop has drawn comparisons to another young emcee. Bishop understands the Joey Bada$$ association, but he wants to stand as his own artist.
“It’s a cool comparison, but it’s getting a little old,” states Bishop. “It’s not a bad comparison so I’m not really complaining. That’s my homie.”
There is one iconic Hip Hop figure he hopes to be mentioned in the same vein as one day. For Bishop it’s the musical and acting career of the man who motivated his moniker that he aspires to reach.
“Tupac still has an effect on people now from 20 years ago. That shit’s crazy to me,” says Bishop. “That’s the kind of effect I want to have on people’s lives. I don’t want to be forgotten.”
Legendary status as an actor and Grammy-winning performer is the eventual goal, but for now Bishop Nehru is focused on growing his independent brand along with his Suburban Shoguns comrades Que Hampton, Iggy Dash, and Marc Mason. If the major labels do come calling Bishop says it’s only one thing that would get his name on the dotted line. “Complete creative control. That’s it.”
With videos topping 50,000 views on YouTube, singles getting premiered on Tony Touch’s Toca Tuesdays Shade 45 radio program, and opening shows for his all-time favorite group Wu-Tang Clan, it may be only a matter of time before Bishop Nehru’s star rises to exceptional heights. Surprisingly, the young man has not fallen victim to the hubris that often consumes naturally talented individuals.
“Nothing really hit me yet, because in my eyes I’m still just the same kid.”
Bishop Nehru’s strictlyFLOWz will be available for download at thesuburbandojo.com on July 16th.
Follow Bishop Nehru on Twitter @BishopNehru