Bishop Nehru – The Haunt, Brighton – 8th August 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

As good as the Brighton live scene is, a sorely overlooked genre is hip-hop. While most overlook Brighton in favour of London, there seems to be a change in the air. Before both GZA and 808ink hit Brighton later this year, prodigious rapper Bishop Nehru made his way to Brighton in support of his latest record Elevators: Act I & II. This created a special atmosphere for his gig at The Haunt, and both Nehru and the crowd treated it as a major occasion.

“I’ve been to a few places in the UK already, but I’ve heard a lot about Brighton’s energy…” Bishop Nehru stated during his first ever time in Brighton. Whether a fake sentiment or not, Nehru had the power and confidence to turn even the weariest of crowds into mass hysteria. At just 21 years old Nehru was an inspiration, not only showcasing his quality as a rapper, but his versatility as a musician too.

Support on the night came from hip-hop collective Society of Alumni, who have just dropped their debut project Here as We Are. Formed of seven rappers, backed by a DJ, they came with the promise to warm the crowd up and they duly delivered. There’s a definite 90s East Coast vibe to the band, and collectively they’re bundles of energy. Importantly, too, each and every member gets their time to shine and the energy and size of the crowd built as they went on. As a support performance, it provided everything you could want from a first look at the group.

With a mostly very young crowd in attendance hanging on his every word, Nehru cut a messiah-like figure throughout, with screams at his every sentence. “I wanna ask you a question Brighton. Who here has heard of MF Doom? And who here has heard of Kaytranada? Well this is a song I worked on with those two” he uttered before playing Elevators: Act II & II cut ‘Driftin’. What followed was one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever heard at The Haunt, which seemed perfectly suitable due to the gigantic nature of the song.

Taking most of his set from Elevators: Act I & II with the likes of ‘Get Away’, ‘Rollercoasting’ and lead single and album closer ‘Rooftops’, all given excellent live renditions, Nehru rightly focussed on his finest release to date. However, the audience were more well versed than that, dutifully asking for much rarer and older cuts. At one point, there was such a demand for his 2012 song ‘Lemon Grass’ that he performed an a capella version of the track, truly exhibited his rapping prowess. Throughout it was a set that felt like it could go truly anywhere. It was exciting, off-the-cuff, yet supremely professional.

It’s hard not to be in awe of Nehru’s talent. At such a young age he’s already built up an unbelievable body of work, an incredibly loyal fanbase and a fantastic live prowess. This wasn’t just a vehicle to show off Nehru’s ability, however, it was proof that hip-hop of this magnitude has a rightful place in Brighton and, hopefully, we get to see more rappers and hip-hop artists gracing the South Coast.

Liam McMillen