Review Summary: no doom i don't want recycled beats off of special herbs and spices thank you
When DOOM decides to join up with another rapper, I can’t help raising my ‘hype meter’ – we’re talking about the MC who was half of Madvillainy, the Mask on the Mouse, the Key to the Kuff. At the pinnacle, the nirvana of a DOOM collab, we see DOOM as an MC, a producer – a force. In the same way Kanye seems to bring the absolute best out of his collaborators, DOOM has, in the past, revolutionized alternative hip hop by combining his persona and his skills as an MC with whatever his other half brought to the table. DOOM + Madlib? Genius. DOOM + Dangermouse? Pretty damn great (even if the Adult Swim pandering did get old). DOOM+ Jneiro Jarel? Passable. DOOM+ Nehru? Overwhelmingly mediocre.
What does Bishop Nehru bring to the table? He brings his flow, sure – for a rapper his age, he has a remarkably stable flow. OM is a good example of how passable Nehru is as an MC. “Am I being idolized?/ Or am I a pair of idle eyes?” he asks in OM. So it’s not necessarily a lack of skill that drags down the record. It’s the lack of effort. This collab comes off as lazy.
Rapping over an old DOOM beat is something we’d expect to see on a debut mixtape; I’m thinking early Odd Future, and even Nehru’s 2012 mixtape, Nehruvia, where Nehru spits over Doom’s Lemon Grass. And there’s nothing wrong with spitting over your favorite MC’s beats. But when you have the opportunity to put out an album with, not from afar, DOOM, I would hope DOOM’s more involved in the process than handing you a beat off of Special Herbs. In fact, there’s very little Doom on the record, which isn’t a straight up bad thing – if this record was meant to be a platform for Nehru, it makes sense that DOOM would back off. But even when DOOM pops up with the rare verse, he sounds lazy, and tired. This is not a “One for the money, two for the better green/ 3-4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine” DOOM. This is a “cap to your chest, in your complex cuz honest/ Your conscious said the guy following you has lost it” DOOM.
In the current state of hip-hop collabs – Run The Jewels, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – we’re seeing fully charged, fully realized artists playing off of each other and producing hard hitting, concise, and playful records. Neither half of the NehruvianDOOM duo is bringing out their full potential. If this were a mixtape from a upcoming rapper, I would be all over this album, but it’s not. It’s DOOM release. I know what DOOM can do with a collaborator – hell, I know what DOOM can do himself. But in terms of energy, persona, and even basic effort, this album falls flat.