Bishop Nehru is one of a selection of heads pushing lyrical hip-hop back to the forefront; with a number of well-received projects and a steadily growing fanbase, Bishop brings his polished flow to Leeds, closing out his UK tour to an enthusiastic West Yorkshire crowd at one of the leading venues in the city centre.
The NorthaZe bring their distinguished sound to Headrow House to warm things up, and the chilled, spacey production is spun by Leeds based DJ Sangria Kong. Kosi and Swish demonstrate their intricate flows, delivering their lyricism seamlessly. They open with ‘Untitled’, from the forthcoming collaboration EP with Jack Jetson, and the unique way in which they move over the beat is thoroughly entertaining. The Doomed Regular crew are on stage, and the energetic presence from the Leeds collective is engaging for sure. They drop ‘Jed Eye’s’ from their recently released ‘Dream Emulators’ project, as well as the classic ‘Volume 8’ joint from ‘Mellow Thrills’. In addition to highlights from their growing discography, we are also treated to a banging Jack Danz produced exclusive; with a wealth of material already available, the new tracks showcased tonight indicate that 2017 is going to be even stronger for the Leeds duo.
Bishop Nehru takes to the stage for the final show of his UK tour, and instantly impresses with ‘Somebody Waits’; the New York spitter has a powerful delivery, and spits with clarity and experience as he strides from side to side of the stage, with a packed Headrow House hanging onto his every word. His live show is very professional and well crafted, and you would never guess that Nehru is only twenty, and has only been truly in the public eye since 2013, from his accomplished stage presence. ‘Mobb Dizzle’ is a definite highlight, and its great to see how easily Bishop can transition between current, electronically driven tracks and traditional boom bap cuts, keeping the show diverse and eclectic.
Some of tonight’s crowd are sure to have first become familiar with the young east coast MC when he partnered with the legendary MF Doom for 2014s ‘NehruvianDoom’ release, and Bishop performs ‘Darkness’ from the critically acclaimed LP; the front section of the crowd are definitely the most energetic, and Nehru is obviously well aware. He drops a savage acapella before launching into a series of hard-hitting tracks, to which the entire room is suddenly re-energised, finally meeting Bishop’s desired level. He drops an emphatic performance of ‘Highs & Lows’ before closing out the show by premiering some trap-flavoured new material.
Tonight’s set was enjoyable, energetic and excellently structured; Bishop played something for every kind of hip-hop head tonight. If you’re a traditionalist that only wants to hear dusty kicks and snares you were satisfied, and if you were hoping to hear more hard-hitting bangers Bishop had you covered as well. There aren’t too many artists who can ride both sides of the game like the young NY lyricist can, and as he continues his rise towards the top of the rap industry alongside youngsters like Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies, the varied sound of hip-hop in 2016 is more refreshing and exciting than ever.
Words by Sam Bennett