At just 18 years old, Bishop Nehru has accumulated a good amount of accolades. The rapper/producer, born Markel Scott, signed to Turnfirst/Noizy Cricket in 2013, then Nas’ Mass Appeal Records in 2014. He was one of the first three signees to Mass Appeal Records, alongside Boldy James and Fashawn. Within two to three years, he’s dropped a handful of projects, including a collaborative album with the legendary MF DOOM, NehruvianDOOM.
Nehru has been simultaneously working on his major label full-length, produced by MF DOOM and to feature Nas, and his 8-song EP, Nehruvia: The Nehruvian EP. Today (May 11), Bishop Nehru premieres his first project off of Mass Appeal Records, Nehruvia: The Nehruvian EP, exclusively on Billboard’s The Juice and talks the making of the EP, working alongside Nas and his upcoming Mass Appeal debut album.
You spent some time touring in Tokyo. How was that experience?
It was cool. It felt like New York to me. Osaka was more calm, I could live out there. I’d have to get used to the food.
What’s wrong with the food?
It’s just not my preference. I tried the ramen, I like a little bit of that. That was the coolest thing I tried out there. I don’t eat meat. I haven’t ate meat in ten months. I’m trying to go a year straight without eating it, and everything out there is pretty much beef and pork.
So you’re not going full vegan?
Nah, nah, I’m not vegan. I’m vegetarian. I definitely eat eggs and stuff like that. I could never go vegan, that’s too much.
You grew up in New York, so was it different to listen to things that weren’t primarily from the East Coast?
For sure, a lot of people when I was growing up weren’t listening to what I was listening to. People my age were really big on Jeezy, Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne — everybody loves Wayne. I had different types of friends — some of them listened to Jonas Brothers or Avril Lavigne. I would go to my grandma’s house and listen to Al Green or Luther Vandross, and then my cousin’s would listen to Eminem or 50 [Cent]. I was exposed to different stuff.
What were some of your influences growing up?
I didn’t really listen to rap, I had certain artists I listened to. Pretty much the stuff my mom or my dad played. 50, Eminem, Pharrell [Williams], Nas, MF DOOM. In middle school I got into DOOM. I was into stuff like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park and Paramore.
You mentioned that you were influenced by DOOM and Nas, and you’ve worked with both of them already. What advice has Nas given?
Nas and DOOM pretty much told me the same thing: just do what I want to do and don’t let anybody stop me. I already know what I’m doing so I just have to do it and never compromise.
Is Nas going to be on your upcoming debut album?
Yeah, we been in the studio.
Who are some artists that you want to work with in the future?
I really want to work with Herbie Hancock, I’m saying this so he can hear it. A$AP Rocky, I definitely got fire for him. Wiz Khalifa, I got beats for him. Ab-Soul. Oh, and Willow and Jaden Smith!
You said on Twitter that your new EP is “too raw for the album.” Were you just trying to warm up the fans beforehand?
By raw, I meant sonically. It’s not mixed to sound great or sound amazing. While the mix isn’t terrible, I had my own ideas for it. An album has it’s own quality and texture. An album also has experimentation. [This EP] is me doing me normally. Making what I would make but getting really, really comfortable with it. I had an idea when I was in LA working on the album, and some of these songs I had already finished but you can’t keep dropping song after song. So I had to compile it.
How old would you say some of the songs are?
Not old, like a year old. Some are like four months old.
One standout song on the EP is called “Users.” Do you feel like that it’s important to take control of everything in your career at such a young age?
Yeah, because people try and take advantage of you. People want to use you as a pawn to do what they want to do. Some things people are going to try and throw at me and I have to say “no.”
It sounds like you’ve been dealing with that already.
Yeah, plenty of times. People get mad when you say “no.” It’s crazy (laughs).
On “Harmony In A Glass” you say that “the future is the past.” Is that a comment on new artists like yourself who are quickly rising up next to the older artists?
Not really. It’s kind of a play on words on “future is passed.” What you see already you can manifest it, if you do the work. It’s kind of deeper than that line. Everything you see yourself doing, just go and do it.
What’s your craziest tour experience so far?
After shows I usually go to my room to be honest. Wait, I can’t say that no more –– this girl started crying when she met me. It was weird, like “What the hell?” It was awkward.
It’s going to get crazier. What are you going to do then?
I don’t know, I just think that was a rare occasion.
You don’t think you’re going to meet a fan who is going to go that crazy for you?
Crying like that? I don’t know. Maybe. That was wild though. Usually I just leave the show and go work on music or watch The Boondocks on my laptop.
You’re a big fan of Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Do you think they’re going to go all the way this year?
Yes! You already know, I been a fan of Steph Curry since he [attended Davidson College]. My friends was on Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans all crazy but I was like “watch, Steph Curry is gonna be the one.” It’s crazy. Shout out to him for winning MVP.
How much of an inspiration has he been to you, being another young person reaching their potential?
It’s crazy! I always notice the people who are gonna be big and I become a fan of them. I always been like that. Attracted to people who are gonna be great. Steph Curry is gonna be great.
You could say the same about yourself, and your development.
Of course. That’s another instance of, “the future is passed.” It’s like you’re watching someone at your home become great. You don’t feel like you could do that yourself? I watched him do this, he’s doing it. There’s no way that I can’t. I wanna go further than that.
Reporting by Justin Davis