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Released: 2012

In the track “Languages” by Bishop Nehru, we’re served a dish that’s piping hot with youthful braggadocio and hip-hop intellect. The general theme circles around Nehru’s confidence in his lyrical ability, a refutation of the haters, and a nod to his influences, setting the scene for a rap clinic by a then-teen wordsmith who’s convinced his bars are beyond his years.

Right off the bat, “Forget math, I ain’t riding with arithmetic,” Nehru throws shade on conventional paths to success. He’s not about the numbers game, unless we’re talking about the ones that make up his rhymes—those “sentences.” He’s crafting his art, “Writing Rhymes, facing dimes,” which in hip-hop slang means he’s not only penning verses but he’s also in the presence of attractive women, or “dimes,” who are trying to get his attention (“Trying to get with the kid”). Despite the distractions, he’s focused on proving his mettle (“Remind them who the illest is”), asserting his dominance in the rap game from an early age (“I been killing shit / 15 but my 16’s be the realest”). A “16” refers to 16 bars, a standard verse length in rap music, and Nehru is making a bold claim that even at a young age, his verses are laced with realness and authenticity.

Dipping deeper, when he says, “Because my flow be so pro / When you niggas go / Hear them Oh-No’s,” he’s using “pro” as shorthand for professional—proclaiming that his skill level is leagues above amateur. The “Oh-No’s” signify the reactions from others as they reckon with his superior rap prowess. They’re forced to slow down and recognize that when Nehru goes in lyrically, he does it with a “force” that’s potent enough to deter and derail his competitors (“push anybody else off course”).

To face the inevitable criticism that comes with rising success, Nehru’s lines “Of course, you gon’ have a couple niggas hatin’, or debatin'” acknowledge that there will always be those who doubt or challenge him. The following controversial line, “Niggas that shakin gon’ see I work for Satan,” could be interpreted as him saying that his critics, in their paranoia, exaggerate his ambition to something diabolical. It’s a hyperbolic expression to illustrate how threatened they feel by his emergence in the scene. Nehru, with a dismissive tone, instructs to “place em, way back with all their nonsense” as he refuses to let the naysayers derail his focus. The line “Y’all spent, most of your time tryna get my cents” plays on words with “cents/sense” to suggest that critics spend their energy trying to understand or profit from his success, whereas he is unbothered and unfazed (“I spent, no reason to keep askin”).

The track finishes with a shout-out to Mos Def, a profound influence on Nehru. By invoking the name of this legendary artist, Nehru aligns himself with a lineage of MCs known for their conscious content and lyrical prowess. “Booker Booker Booker Booker Booker”—this can be an allusion to an audience chanting for an encore or a hyped reference to a performer owning the stage. In all, “Languages” by Bishop Nehru is a linguistically packed homage to hip-hop tradition, personal skill, and the unwavering focus it takes to carve out a space in the rap game.

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