When I first started I was a little nervous about what people might think about the music but now I don’t have a care in the world.
Hailing from upstate New York, we have a lot of time for 16 year-old Nehru. Not only a rapper, but a producer and occasional video director, he makes us ashamed of our own antics at the same age.
We had a chat with the softly spoken rapper in Harlem, New York (pictured) ahead of his UK tour next week with Wu-Tang Clan (details below). Download Strictly Flowz, the follow up to his debut mixtape Nehruvia, above.
What do you represent as a rapper, a lyricist, a musician?
I’m not a 'typical' 16 year old. A lot of people tell me I speak very well. From a young age I developed myself as my own parent, so I wouldn’t have to look up to a parent as I got older. Everyone has to move away from their parents. So at 8 or 9 I developed myself so I could do things for myself without anyone else’s help or teaching me to do it. I always try to teach myself first. I think that’s me, my willpower, I don’t give up. I don’t giving up at all. I don’t like losing, giving up…. I don’t like any of that at all (laughs).
Tell us about your nod to Tupac's character, Bishop, from the film Juice.
Bishop in Juice is like my favourite character and he’s played my Tupac who is an inspiration to me. He was just cool. I liked that he wanted respect and he went to take it. That’s something that I admire; taking respect, taking what you want. I got 'Nehru' from the former Indian Prime Minister. I was in global history and heard the name and thought it sounded cool. Then I read up on him and I liked what he represented and so I chose it.
Who did you listen to growing up (we say 'growing up', you're still like 12 years old!)
I always listened to a mix of old and new. One of my older cousins put me onto the really cool, 'Golden Era' sound and after that I got to discovering myself, I started researching and researching. It was something that I felt like I could do. hen I first started making music, I was kind of corrupted by everything else that was going on; I was trying to be famous and not true to myself. I realized 'That’s not me, I can’t do that'. I started making the music that I liked to listen to.
When did you start rhyming?
About a year and a half ago. That’s when I started recording, but I’ve been writing for a long time. I started off writing poetry and then I transitioned to rap.
Why did you choose the medium of hip hop?
I don’t know, I just always listened to rap when I was younger, it was always around me. So I’m not sure what drew me to it but I knew I liked it, so I figured that would be good for me, if it was something that I liked. I tried it out and I liked it a lot.
I don’t give up. I don’t giving up at all. I don’t like losing, giving up…. I don’t like any of that at all
One the back of one mixtape, you've worked with MF Doom and supported the Wu-Tang. Not bad going.
I don’t want to be cocky, but I knew this was going to happen, everything just fell into place. Everything that’s happened I knew would happen. The day before my first video got put on Worldstar, I knew that was going to happen. Meeting Doom, I knew that was going to happen. It’s weird.
How was Doom?
It was cool. He’s just a normal person. I was talking to him like a normal person. I’d like to do more stuff with him in future, if everything works out.
How do you describe what you do? What’s your MO?
It’s musical therapy and raw lyrics. By raw I don’t mean explicit cursing, I mean straight from the heart raw. My stuff is usually more conscious rap, but I switch it up on Strictly Flows. There will be more flows, more kicking back, not really any topics, more cipher, on the corner type rapping. When I first started I was a little nervous about what people might think about the music but now I don’t have a care in the world.
How do you fit in Hip Hop with School life?
I study online. High School was a bother. I didn’t like it. I was never a fan of school. I felt like I could learn more at home than I could at school. A lot of things are mis-taught at school. Not like maths, but subjects like history.
What do your friends think of what you do?
I don’t really have that may friends but the ones I do still associate with, they’re cool. They still treat me normal, they don’t treat me different, they’re still my bro’s. Everything’s cool.
If people want to know more about you, what song of yours should they check out?
Fickle Minds (above). When I was writing it, I knew it was going to be great.
Bishop Nehru supports Wu-Tang Clan at Manchester Apollo on 25 July and Brixton Academy on the 26 July.