Home Music Discography Discography: MF DOOM: NehruvianDOOM

Discography: MF DOOM: NehruvianDOOM

MF DOOM was a generous collaborator. As evidence, you can sort his albums into “solo” projects and “collaborative” projects and find that the second group is larger. But NehruvianDOOM, his collaboration with the, at the time, 18-year-old New York rapper Bishop Nehru stands out amidst his other collaborations for the way DOOM sidelines his own voice in order to elevate a young MC. The collaboration formed sometime after the two shared a stage in London in 2013 — and the two are a natural fit for each other. And while it’s obvious why Nehru would rush to collaborate with one of his idols, it’s a testament to his potential that DOOM chose to reciprocate that spirit, producing the whole album and rhyming on almost half the tracks.

The sound is vintage DOOM. Ungenerously, you could say autopilot DOOM – but few producers could string together samples of Miles Davis, Norwegian prog band Ruphus and “Little Twelve Toes” from Schoolhouse Rock! (not to mention film dialogue and meditation tapes) into an intricate tapestry and still be accused of phoning it in a bit. If you like DOOM, there’s little to complain about here. In fact, because songs like “Om,” “Disastrous” and “Caskets” so obviously bear DOOM’s signature, it’s the more minimalistic moments like the Koichi Sugiyama flutes sampled on “So Alone” or the skittering opening bars of “Darkness” that draw the listener’s attention closer.

DOOM lends his lyrical talents to four of the tracks here. He drops his best line on “Disastrous” – the only track with production credited to Madvillain instead of MF DOOM – when he takes stock of his place in history: “Reporting live from the here (where?) after/ The collapse of Rome’s rafters, amongst tears, laughter.” It’s effortless in its play, tender in its sentiment and yet sharp as a knife. It’s late Obama-era disillusionment, but delivered by an artist who can transcend such temporalities.

Nehru gets more lines than his mentor, but his raps are in the lyrical lineage of DOOM, relying on wordplay and dexterous flow. There are times where it’s clear he’s still a developing talent with a lot to learn from the master. On “Om,” he drops the pretty lame line “Am I being idolized, or am I a pair of idle eyes?” One can certainly roll their eyes at it, but that might be a little too harsh. The vibe of the album is a laid-back one. DOOM doesn’t rattle off many lines he couldn’t manage in his sleep. It feels more like the two collaborators traded freestyles over beats DOOM had lying around. That is to say, they’re having fun with it – and taken on those terms, NehruvianDOOM is a good listen, even if it isn’t a particularly innovative one.

So NehruvianDOOM isn’t going to be anyone’s favorite DOOM project, but it does give us a glimpse of DOOM in elder statesman mode – ushering in a new era of talent, introducing him on a platform built from beats made by one of the greatest to ever do it. That intergenerational passing of the torch is one of the most vital forces in hip-hop, and among the many things lost when Daniel Dumile passed last year – first and foremost a human being loved by friends and family – was a master who wasn’t above reaching a few rungs down on the ladder and offering his hand to up-and-comers. DOOM forged a path that others can still follow, but his presence as a mentor and guide will be sorely missed for those who wish to follow it.

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