MF DOOM is 43 and Bishop Nehru, at 18, isn’t even half his age. When that clicked for me, I wondered if this would be a weird parody of a father-son relationship. DOOM is certainly out-there enough for that to occur. According to an interview with Exclaim, Nehru said that DOOM only removes his mask to sleep. It’s a coup for Nehru to get the DOOM co-sign. I’ve cheated by listening to NehruvianDOOM first, and I’m going to use that privilege to tell you to listen to the entire album. It’s back-loaded and there are some weak tracks at the start that may make you want to flip it off.
The project starts with cobbled together vocal clips over a lilting sort of beat, a not-too-spooky intro that calls back to MM…FOOD. I was surprised to hear DOOM rapping, even if it was just on the hook. With the sequel to Madvillainy en route to Detox status, I didn’t think DOOM was doing anything besides studying occult tapestries with ex-communicated Tibetan monks. Shows what I know. Nehru, on the other hand, will probably develop a fake rivalry with Joey Bada$$ sooner or later as they sound somewhat alike. On “Mean the Most,” Nehru busts out a “Girl I wanna be your man” sound over a trumpet-centric beat that sounds just a little sharp or otherwise off-key. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear again.
“So Alone” follows immediately. The janky, hollow beat and Nehru’s questionable singing (i.e. poor man’s Slick Rick) don’t do much in the way of making a good song. Thank God that “Darkness” arrives to save this album from going totally off the rails. This is the first time on this album that Nehru sounds like he gives a shit, and it’s a good sign that he has some fire in him. The hooks take up too much of the song and take away Nehru’s momentum. On tracks like this, where he rips off 16 like stitches from a jagged wound, I would say “Fuck a hook, just let the man talk.” Just a reminder, though, I have never produced anything. Something does feel off throughout the entire album. It’s like word got through to DOOM that Nehru wanted to record over beats from Special Herbs and DOOM decided to reach out… but only for a few tracks.
“Coming for You” is a forgettable save for Nehru’s self-proclaimed promotion from bishop to emperor. It’s really a bridge track that gets us to “Caskets,” where we get to hear a very fat-sounding DOOM rap with Nehru, and I mean really rap. DOOM’s jowls aside, both rappers bring it here over a better-than-average beat that gets expansive near the end of Nehru’s verse. Like damn, where was this Bishop Nehru over the course of the album? DOOM’s piano interlude and stewardess’ philosophy lead into Nehru’s personal mission statement, fittingly titled “Great Things.” I hope you end up being great, Nehru. “Disastrous” ends the album, unfortunately. It’s one of the best songs on the album, yet they hid it at the very end. This could have been their perfect opener, but it sounds like they decided the album was thin right before finalizing it and worked up the energy to craft another song.
NehruvianDOOM is something different, certainly, and there are a lot of good signs for the future. Bishop Nehru showed that he can rap in the majors. He needs to work on his consistency and leave some of the navel-gazing behind (I say this as an admitted navel-gazer in recovery). That said, when his contemplative lyrics work, they really work, and I think his future work will reflect the maturity to know when and how his kind of lyrics work. He has time on his side and he should have a really cool future. DOOM, as always, is an enigmatic weirdo and one of the best rappers in the game when he wants to be. This is to say nothing of his production, which has been excellent since the first Metal Fingers volume. Something was off here, though, even if there were places where this collaboration clicked. The good spots outnumbered the bad, but there were enough rough patches to make this an occasionally trying listen. Ultimately, t’s still worth your time and mental energy.