VAR!IN, one of the founders of TILV (The Ideal Life Venture) Records has recently dropped an 8-track album aptly named The Long Weekend 2. The coronavirus-induced lockdown and subsequent isolation has either drained artists or provided them new ventures to get creative around. VAR!N belongs to the latter category as last March, he dropped the first variant of The Long Weekend, channelling his breezy angst. Exactly one year later, he dropped this follow-up. The question arises. Is it any different from the first Long Weekend?
This time around, VAR!N himself has turned producer on a few tracks and draws on multiple influences ranging from experimental rock to drill. Two tracks aside, the album is a star-studded venture with collaborations as diverse as the genres it touches upon.
The opening track Piper boasts of a memorable guest verse by Bangalore rapper Tintin along with a soulfully soothing chorus by Sheehan Sista. A bass arrangement reminiscent of 2010s rock while the hook’s phrases like “nobody’s gonna pick you up” and “gotta get it together, stop crying” seem to capture the solitude of the young, hopeless artist trope in the period of lockdowns.
However, even if Piper offers some hope, the next track S.I.N.S goes down a mellower road. VAR!N’s enhanced, phased-out monotone sounds fitting for a spacey sound (courtesy of Nishikar Chhibber’s production) as he croons about not being able to feel his face, mood-altering pills numbing his perspective on everything in the vicinity. S.I.N.S is definitely one of the finest and rawest ventures in the tracklist and VAR!N captures his moody frustration with hardly any emotion, resonating his mood in this process.
The storytelling elements carry on as S.I.N.S ends on a voicenote proclaiming the lockdown, while the next track All I Am brings him back to the context of protests against the CAA that had immediately preceded the pandemic. All I Am plays with a similar flow from VAR!N as he expresses his rage against seperatist politics but it’s the chorus that stands out, as Timeship repeats the song’s title. Much like the other songs on this album, All I Am is “chaotic” given its content, and yet “calming” in its sonic approach.
With a track as mellow as the previous one, it’s quite a drastic mood change (for better or worse) when the next track 23 plays out in a typical drill fashion. However, if one analyses 23 on its own, it’s quite a strong track for the country’s nascent yet rising drill scene. While the title is indicative of VAR!N’s age, the song as a whole is a razor-sharp exchange of flows in a memorable cypher.
The beat, produced by RSHN and flipped by Ankith Gupta, sets the pace running while rappers A-Gan, The Rhyming Man, Loud Silence, execute their bars in Tamil, Hindi, and English respectively. VAR!N’s contributes with a verse and the hook. Despite the diversity of collaborations in 23, one slight drawback can be the oversaturation of the drill sound in itself. Lyrically, none of these MCs are sounding derivative. However, considering the sudden upsurge of UK-influenced drill in India, there still remains space for further experimentation.
The Wolf Part 2 is directly connected with The Wolf from The Long Weekend. A self-described “love song”, VAR!N also relies on the signature vocals of Shiloh Dynasty, an ominous figure whose public domain sounds are used by innumerable rappers all over the world. The track is a perfect interlude after 23’s high-octane energy.
What one can appreciate wholly in The Long Weekend 2 is the presence of tonal shifts rather than sticking to a homogeneous narrative. The next track Disconnect again resonates with a glooming sense of one’s misery not ending at all (arguably just like this pandemic).
This misery gets replaced with a sense of acceptance in Road Runner, as VAR!N accepts his path of uncertainty as a person and as an artist, much like the Looney Tunes’ Road Runner that keeps on running on an endless path with no destination in sight. Featured rapper Xplicit’s husky, melodic verse is one to behold while VAR!N contributes to the catchiest hook in the album.
Road Runners gives way to the closing chapter Immortal. And it’s a fitting end indeed as the rapper delves into the concept of death and its inevitable nature. His sister mika provides some heart-wrenchingly graceful vocals as moody pianos grace the background.
In the end, VAR!N hopes that at least his songs preserve his thoughts, making a part of him immortal in the process. And that’s quite a relevant thought given how The Long Weekend 2 is arguably one of the most personal testaments of an artist’s experience with the pandemic. It’s honest, gritty, meditative, and leaves enough room for interpretation.
Verdict: A touch of honesty with a plethora of featured guests and sound influences, go a long way in making The Long Weekend 2 a fresh debut.