Photography by Asia Ashley
For the length of my career covering music, one theory has always stayed planted firmly in the back of my mind. Explained to me in one of my first interviews, with 9th Wonder in 2009, the ‘Twenty Year Loop’ has shaped much of the way I have consumed and understood music, culture and art since. The idea is somewhat simple, that every two decades, themes, aesthetics and ideas will re-emerge and manifest themselves once again in popular culture. It can explain the current 90s trend we’re enjoying, the bell bottom craze of the late 90s and even bridge to presidents No. 41 and 43. I’ve never been more eager to sit down with an artist to discuss this phenomena than I was last week in Austin as I arrived at The Omni Hotel to talk to 17-year-old NYC phenom Bishop Nehru. The young artist from Rockland County, NY has a distinctly Nas-like flow that is easily recognizable throughout his breakout project, Nehruvia which was released last year. If we’re following the Twenty Year Loop to a t, then that would put us in 1994. On April 19 of that year, Nas released a little project by the name of Illmatic, which can be fully felt on every rhyme Nehru spits. In essence, Bishop Nehru is the Twenty Year Loop personified. This is not to say he is a carbon copy of Nasir Jones, far from it. Instead, the point is to draw a map of the way influences work and how they manifest in music today. To be sure, Nehru has set himself up for a productive career in hip-hop, having been tapped by WorldStarHipHop as their ‘Rap Act of the Week’ in July 2012 at age 15 for an 8-bar freestyle over Mos Def’s “Mathematics”. Since then he has garnered co-signs from his idol, Nas, opened for Wu Tang Clan on their 20th Anniversary Tour and positioned himself as the true boom-bap artist to be reckoned with. Currently working on his MF Doom-produced project which he calls ‘the first project he’s been proud off all the way through,’ epect to hear Bishop Nehru’s name talked about a couple decades from now when influences get brought up. Check out my Q+A with the budding east coast MC.