Bishop Nehru’s latest album titled Nehruvia: My Disregarded Thoughts is released today and it’s a mixed bag. With Nehru reportedly saying “I wanted to make a concept record about what it takes to free yourself from mental enslavement”, this LP sounded like an interesting idea. Upon hearing the finished product however, I’d say it’s too haphazard. Okay, so I acknowledge that thoughts are sometimes unfocussed and even abstract, but an album shouldn’t be a literal translation of an artist’s thoughts or you end up with something that goes in too many directions without satisfying anyone.
Separated into two parts like Bishy’s Elevators album, in the case of My Disregard Thoughts, this two-parter idea is much less successful. The album begins with “Act 1: The Abyss” (although it’s part of the first track “Colder”) and Bishop Nehru begins by telling the listener a very short story about a man finding a cassette tape, but as Nehru continues to describe the unfolding events, the unnamed person comes to some kind of divine mental transformation before he even plays it. The LP then wanders off, completely abandoning the character we’re told about during the first song.
The first song (“Colder”) is highly-enjoyable had it not been for this intro. A simple three-note flute loop serves as a non-taxing backdrop to Bishop Nehru conveying the feeling that life or existence is becoming hopeless and more dejecting; a side-effect of ageing and experiencing more repetition whilst the rose-tinted positivity and idealism of childhood is left in the past.
In terms of lyrics, there’s lots of interesting observations throughout the LP such as “they want me mad ’cause cops drop us within a week, but it’s nothing new, it’s just now you can send a tweet” (in “Colder”) but like I said, the lyricism and subject matter isn’t always honed. In “EMPEROR” Bishop raps – “I’m giving the vision in vividly, I figured it out like a mystery, I admit I was close to the misery, ‘Cause I do not mold with the industry. I’m a rebel, they say it’s the kid in me, I’m just thinking ‘you gotta be kidding me’, I know that you peeping the mini-me’s, Trying to run away with Bishy’s steez” – but I cannot think of one rapper who’s copying Nehru, nor can I say he’s unique or rebellious. Sure, braggadocio lyrics are a mainstay in Hip-Hop music but remember this release is supposedly a concept album about “freeing yourself from mental enslavement”.
Whilst listening to the first third of the LP, I felt that My Disregarded Thoughts was in danger of being depressing without any pay-off. There’s no disheartening narratives like Immortal Technique’s “Dance With The Devil” or introspective lyrics like Nas’ “The World Is Yours”, and because most of these songs are lacking in narrative, stance, and sound, they’re not destined to be classics despite the initial idea for this album being filled with potential.
It’s not like Bishop Nehru was ever overly bleak or overly upbeat but an Emo-Rap album has to venture to the extreme highs and extreme lows, either that or be completely juxtaposed in a very abstract way. Thankfully, this album isn’t faux-emo à la Lil Uzi Vert but it fails to move you which amounts to the same thing. Songs like “Little Suzy (Be Okay)” begins with a piano intro which can be heard over the sound of rain (which on the surface goes with the narrative of someone taking drugs and pondering suicide) but in the end, the track comes off as unmoving and leaves the listener apathetic.
This album starts off promisingly but around the half-way mark it gets progressively worse; a jaded 23 year old MC turning into a common and ordinary 23 year old rapper by the 8th track and then proceeding to make typical and unexceptional Hip-Hop until the final (much better) song. The fact that the album is divided into uneven parts “The Abyss” and “The Escape”, you’d assume the contrast between the darker and lighter themes would be more pronounced. Instead the songs are a little bit sombre and a little bit spirited but never honing-in on either. Sonically, the production doesn’t always match the feeling of the lines; in “WhyDoesTheNightSkyTalk2Me?” for instance, the bland and limp way the chorus is sang doesn’t gel with lyrics like “tired of the clouds always being grey”).
In terms of production, the sounds also dither; from contemporary to old-school and back again. “Me & My Thoughts” is a nice ’70s meets ’10s joint. “EMPEROR” sounds like an old French movie over a double-time beat which is reminiscent of something made in the early ’00s. “In My Zone” sports a piano sample over a Trap beat but this conventional rhythm results in a somewhat impressive yet generic flow. “Too Lost” (produced by DJ Premier) of course contains scratching and sampling that is quintessentially Premo. Unfortunately the almost-sung chorus lets down the track. The run-of-the-mill R&B hook in “WhyDoesTheNightSkyTalkToMe?” also does a disservice to the saxophonic, no drum production. There’s a couple of songs that contain electric guitars (“Little Suzy (Be Okay)” and “OurEnergyIsAstral”) and then there’s “All Of My Years” which is a slice of wannabe-fusion but characterless Hip-Pop; I can only describe as Lounge-Bar-Funk-Pop. The LP also contains the utterly disappointing and off-putting pop muzak of “CAREFREE BLACKBOY (NUWAVE)”.
The standout tracks are “Colder”, “In My Zone”, “EMPEROR”, and “Never Slow” but as a complete work, the disorganised tracklist and wavering soundscape is the lasting impression of the LP. A mishmash of ideas (or thoughts) seems to be the album’s concept but this amalgamation doesn’t result in a memorable release.
I have to stress that Nehruvia: My Disregarded Thoughts is not a bad album but it isn’t an album that gets you in your heart or your mind. It contains topics that could potentially be very emotive but the end result feels disjointed and hit-and-miss. Like I said; instead of a honed album we have a jumble of sounds. And issues such as the repetitive choruses and the corny, half-hearted singing is hard to ignore. This is an above-average album but stylistically and conceptually it’s not as focussed as I or any fan would like.