We live in an age of increasing materialism. Rappers are caught up in daydreaming about luxury rides like Mercedes and Lamborghinis. On the other hand, we have Jaipur-based MC Ruhaan 79 who opens his latest album Living Proof with an interesting ode to a yesteryear car.
The opening track titled Contessa Chitti, references the vintage Contessa, a Hindustan Motors car that’s sleek, old-school, and iconic in its own right. The rapper starts crooning in Punjabi with an auto-tune-laden voice and interestingly compares a person to the titular car. This doesn’t imply any objectification. Rather, he describes the ideal person as the rusted Contessa, one who isn’t afraid to show their imperfections. The song is a pretty wavy track and sets the mood for this diversely catchy record.
With all tracks produced by Trap Monk, there are several styles explored throughout Living Proof. Roshni, the second track, for instance, infuses trap influences but rarely does Ruhaan79 sound derivative (otherwise the trap scene is largely populated with Indians aping American SoundCloud rappers these days). While Roshni is an inspirational chapter asking people to follow their own intuition, Address takes a more light-hearted turn as the rapper rants about a toxic ex-flame and how he’s over her.
This is then followed by a chaotic skit that introduces a more aggressive side for the next track called Kaidi Azaad Hai (that roughly translates to ‘The Prisoner is Free’). A typical head-bopper, Kaidi Azaad Hai is worthy of being performed for moshpits but that doesn’t mean that Ruhaan79’s bars are just mindless fun. Instead, the track is one of the best-written ones on the album as he touches upon people blindly following a mob or a herd, and it’s this ‘herd mentality’ that he wishes to combat.
In another contrast of moods, Trap Monk relies on a more spacey vibe (quite literally) for the song Brahmaand. As ‘brahmaand’ translates to the universe, this song finds the wordsmith deliver philosophical musings on the humongous scale of the cosmos, the starry night sky. This setting prompts him to analyze his thoughts and decisions and the futility of it all, the futility of human existence itself.
The calming energy is carried on by Backseat, another vibey introspective track. But as mentioned before, Living Proof doesn’t just incorporate one homogenous sound. Hence, drifting away from the lo-fi-like ambiance, Ruhaan gets at his fiery best in the concluding song, aptly christened Murder. The song finds him taking collective shots at several ‘desi’ rappers who just get materialistic, buy ‘fake fans’, and lack all self-awareness as artists. But again, like most of the tracks on the album, he ‘murders’ the beat in an effortless manner, rather than relying on a high-decibel barrage of cliched ‘flexing’ bars.
Ruhaan79 and Trap Monk succeed as a duo as the album does boast a strong replay-worthy quality. Considering that the songs are easygoing and the lyrics are quite thoughtful, different interpretations are bound to arise on several of Living Proof’s tracks. While a track like Brahmaand benefits from commendable verses, Murder, and Contessa Chitti have memorable hooks that listeners won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Verdict: A new vibey high for Punjabi/Hindi hip-hop.