Bishop Nehru’s sixth release titled Elevators: Act I And II is an impressive album. Split into two halves, each segment is composed by a different producer (“Act I: Ascension” by Kaytranada and “Act II: Free Falling” by MF Doom). With a title and concept such as this, this album could easily fall into the category of pretentious music but this LP is far from being an affected “arty” album. Instead what this release brings is an unashamed old-school audio aesthetic, with mellow head-nodding beats which buck any current musical trend. The lyrics too sound very mature, both in terms of content and style.
At almost 32 minutes long this is without a doubt a very short album, but unlike other brief releases such as that of 6ix9ine’s DAY69, Elevators doesn’t feel like you’ve been short-changed. The album is split into two halves à la The Underachievers’ Evermore but unlike that album, this piece works as a whole rather than the listener preferring one half to the other. What I will say however is that although the production has a cohesive feel, as a concept album, the two halves aren’t distinctive in the sense that you recognise the “ascension” and the “fall”.
As Nehru says in “Potassium” “I’m hella nice”, and when listening to Elevators you agree with him. Bishop brings various approaches to this project; a narrative to “The Game Of Life”, humourous lines such as “like doctors with anorexia, my patience [patients] is thin” in “Again & Again”, and even a few introspective lines in “Rollercoasting” such as “Though the bling doesn’t satisfy my hunger inside, I still cop ’cause on the outside I love to be fly”. That’s not to say that the vocal side of this LP is flawless, the chorus in “Driftin’” is a tad too simple and there’s also some bad singing in the aforementioned “The Game Of Life”. Thankfully, there’s no bloated featured artists here other than Lion Babe giving a decent lounge-esque chorus in “Up, Up & Away”.
When it comes to Kaytranada and MF Doom, I have to acknowledge the beautiful production with heavenly vocals in “Get Away” and the soothing sound of “Driftin’”. In terms of non-conventional sounds there’s a chopped-up beat with the sound of a hand drum in ”Potassium” and a disjointed yet slightly distracting sample in “No Idea”. There’s even the sounds of birds chirping in “Taserz”. During the very catchy hook in “Again & Again”, MF Doom inserts a staccato break that is again slightly distracting but punctuates Bishop’s outburst about the monotony and dispiriting nature of life. There’s also the sound of Jazz horns in “Rooftops” and the album ends with the single word “Fin” like a classic French movie.
The soundscape here, as I’ve already said, isn’t your typical contemporary Hip-Hop aesthetic, in fact the overall vibe is firmly old-school. If you’re a fan of mid-90s East Coast Hip-Hop, this album strangely fits right in to that era.
What I will also say is that there’s no overly distinctive line or memorable couplet on Elevators that you can quote with pride, in fact there isn’t that one single “stand out” song that sticks out from all the others, but in some ways that’s a good thing. In contemporary music, artists have a tendency to make a couple of obvious radio-friendly hits and then bookend them with filler. Elevators isn’t like that at all, this is more of an album where you’re impressed by the overall feel (as an album should rather than the feel of an unconnected compilation). Having said that, for me I was more impressed with the production side than the lyrical content. That’s not to say that this LP is weak when it comes to Bishop Nehru’s rapping, Bishy always brings his skilled delivery and take-me-or-leave-me attitude but the enduring element of this LP is without a doubt the production.