Bishop Nehru is known for his golden era sound, and with one of the all-time greats Nas signing him to his label Mass Appeal Records, there’s high hopes for this 19 year old rapper from New York. Before he drops his first full-length studio album, Nehru has released “Magic: 19” an 11 track mixtape in which he serves as both rapper and producer. Unfortunately, although I was looking forward to this release I have to say that it’s somewhat of a let down. Now obviously this is a free mixtape so I wasn’t expecting some kind of “Illmatic”, but after my first listen “Magic: 19” sounds like a collection of left-over songs that weren’t good enough to make it onto the LP. The one thing this mixtape does well is showcase Bishy’s producing skills and the tracks he’s created are pretty decent, so too are his lyrics, his flow, and his delivery, but what lets some of the tracks (if not the entire mixtape) down are the downright lazy, and sometimes off-putting choruses.
The mixtape begins with “Did I Find It” and this is one of the few songs that is free from the “chorus problem”, in fact this should serve as an example as to where Bish should be going with his album; good production and poetic, thoughtful lines like this… “Life’s dark and the light switch you have to find. Did I find it or am I blinded?”. Produced by Bishop Nehru himself and including a few clips from “Batman Begins” the opening song is one of the better tracks on the mixtape. This is followed however, by “It’s Whateva” which features a slightly trippy trap beat but a horrible chorus. “Cake Up” then follows and it has a contrived Hip-Pop chorus, then it’s “$acred Visions” (also produced by Nehru) and in terms of production it’s a nice mellow track, but again there’s a slightly pop-sounding chorus with a repetitive conclusion.
“You Should Know” is a decent mainstream-sounding song and again it shows the abilities of Bish as a producer, if anything this track is also slightly let down by the chorus (maybe not as much as the previous offerings but it’s still noticeable). Then it’s “He The Man” a mean sounding joint if you ignore the lacklustre chorus and “One Of A Kind” (produced by Bishop too) is not as bad but again the chorus is simplistic and somewhat forgettable.
Thankfully “Highs And Lows” is a much better song and its upbeat, post-modern soundscape is what Nehru does best. Bish even says in the opener that this song is “a change of pace” and it is without a doubt one of the better tracks on the mixtape. Even though it contains a singing hook, it’s much less corny and it suits the overall style of the song. Then it’s “I Know (Angel Of My Dreams)” a messily produced track that’s surprisingly catchy, making good use of the sample from Zendaya’s “Heaven Lost An Angel”, the end result sounds like a late 80’s chart hit. “How It Goes” is also one of the better tracks, but there’s a pretty basic chorus with a vocoded background vocal like a mid-90’s R’N’B throwback. The tape then ends with “Midnight Reflecting” an average, short, and forgettable song, in fact the entire release despite a few tracks is pretty underwhelming to say the least.
“Magic: 19” shows Bishop Nehru’s skills as both rapper and producer and this mixtape serves as an appetiser before the much anticipated studio album. We all know Bishy can rap very well, in fact he’s one of the most skilled Hip-Hop artists of his generation, but that doesn’t count for much when you accompany above average verses with below average choruses. Similar to Joey Bada$$ and his latest song “Devastated”, Nehru has great lyrics but when you accompany them with horrid hooks the end result is a mediocre song, hopefully when Bishop Nehru’s upcoming album drops he includes much better choruses than these.
Highs And Lows.