Bishop Nehru pulls nothing short of magic at his Magic: 19 Vancouver show
Vancouver, BC – A typical rainy night in Vancouver set the tone for Bishop Nehru’s first show in the city this past Friday night. The evening started slow as hiply dressed, soggy youth lined up outside waiting to see the 19-year-old commodity from Rockland County, New York. In a matter of no time the line, and it’s equally long guest-list counterpart, started to fill.
Being a new fan of Bishops (when I say new I mean NEW… maybe 24-hours prior to the event), I was going in with pure objective eyes and ears, ready to devour any sonic pleasure the rapper planned to dish out. Luckily for me, he did plenty of that.
The heat in Fortune Sound Club dried up the wet crowd as Nehru’s DJ, Juanito (Hot 97) got everyone warmed up with some old school hip-hop. Deliberate foreshadowing for the vibes Bishop was about to bring? Definitely. That wasn’t where the impressive DJing stopped, throughout the night Juanito threw in clever switch-ups like when he blended Tupac’s “Ambitionz As a Rida” beat with an original instrumental of Nehru’s. Not to mention, his back up vocals and crowd-hyping were so legit they felt reminiscent of a 90’s hip-hop show.
The crowd was comprised of a balance between true hip-hop heads and scene kids looking to get their Friday night hyphy on. When Bishop hit the stage, half the crowd hardly knew how to react. The true hip-hop lovers could be seen bopping their heads, pensively engulfing themselves in his lyrical wit, clearly hyped on the magnitude of dopeness his instrumentals informed, with credits like MF DOOM, Madlib and Premo. The intoxicated people just looking for a party seemed less enthused. Music with delivery that you actually have to listen to to enjoy? What a rarity these days.
It wasn’t long before Nehru hit the crowd with more viscerally pleasing tracks, lightening up the skeptics. Maybe it was the effect of third rounds, or maybe it was the unexpected and subliminally trappy under-tones of some of his instrumentals, but hands started throwing in the air. Everyone was getting so into it, dancing and shouting in his direction. It was hard not too, Nehru’s infectious stage presence made you feel like you were at a house party jamming with him – “Let’s get lit together, if you had a bad week… release all that tension within, bounce with me!” DJ Juanito’s rebuttal, “but they know you for the lyrics!” Nehru shot back, “but they feelin’ the energy.”
The most impressive thing about his performance was his ability to maintain depth and lyrical integrity while still appealing to those looking to turn up. Being a women in art, I more than anyone am resistant to use the comparison of demographics to talent to elucidate an artist’s worthiness, but for this I can’t help it. He’s only 19! It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that someone that young could utter that much knowledge and talent, all while seamlessly keeping a crowd engaged. Is he 2016’s version of early Nas? I would say that’s a hard yes.
After the show we caught up in the green room over some greenery donated by Stepping Stone Holistic Health Centre. The room unintentionally resembled a misogynic scene straight out of a hip-hop video. Tightly clothed women dancing around drinking off his Henny, fan art on the table, joints in rotation. We engaged in casual conversation, the most enlightening of which was when he talked of his transition into fame.
“It wasn’t weird, I expected everything, I always knew I would be successful so it wasn’t hard to adjust, it was envisioned” Nehru proclaimed as we conversed about knowing your worth as an artist, shedding light on the common but misplaced view that certainty in yourself is often viewed as cockiness. Confirming that he isn’t cocky, just aware. But, like he says in his track “User$”, “fuck what you expect or think is correct / don’t interject / just give me a second while rejections exit.”
Seasoned hip-hop lovers and new-school dabblers alike can enjoy Bishop Nehru’s comforting flows and deep messaging. Thanks to a balanced approach his music is pallatable for any mood. Looking to stimulate your intellect? Just want to let loose and groove? He’s got you covered. Listen to Magic: 19 here.
Review by Tee Krispil for HipHopCanada
Photography by Eric Milic for HipHopCanada
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