REVIEW: Raftaar’s ‘Mr Nair’ is intimate, but a bit indulgent
By Bryan Durham - April 21, 2020
MR NAIR – RAFTAAR; Zee Music Company
RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)
ME AND MY PEN – FT SHAH RULE
Starting off with a little looksie in the mirror, Dilin Nair (aka Raftaar) saunters off into a ‘who woulda thunk’ zone, name-drops Khaled and Ghalib in the same breath. Shah Rule brings in some brag swag in the chorus. There’s a shoutout to the Raa Army and a bit about his legacy. A little self-love never hurt anyone, especially if you know it to be true. Wotsay?
DILLI WAALI BAATCHEET
A shoutout to the Dilli Boyz, a straight-up middle-finger flip to haters and some nostalgia rolled in one, fires ‘em puns out like a tommy gun and a little tongue-in-cheek ribbing. Listen to it with a bhai from Dilli.
MAIN WAHI HOON (THE SCHOOL SONG) – FT KARMA
Time travel is on the menu here with Dilin revisiting his school days and measuring up how quality of life then fares to his ’now’, name-drops Sidhu Moosewala and Rabbi Shergill in the same breath. A throwback that almost any millennial can relate to, Karma and Raftaar keep the vibe “I’ve not changed in all these years” with a rock-tinged ending that would make anyone pull out a lighter and hoist it up.
DAMN – FT KR$NA
Considering how many disses and beefs Dilin has been in over the past few years, this is a social distancing anthem from everything the rappers feel brings them down. Focuses on being positive and rising above the hate. It’s all about loving your “family” here.
The shoutout to BAE to end all shoutouts to BAEs. Dilin goes on in excruciating detail about why he names his BAE ‘sick’ and how much his BAE loves his music. Catchy AF, this one should be added to your next year’s Valentine’s Day playlist despite starting out with a short whine about her spending habits.
This bop is guaranteed to bring your booty to the dance floor the instant it starts. Could be those generously splashed Latin lyrics or that hands-high-in-the-air bouncy choral refrain. Quite easily one of our favourites on the album.
BESHAQ – FT YUNAN
Longing in love gets real with this slow-burner R&B single. Sees Raftaar slow down and smell the roses. Feels a bit derivative. Worth a listen, nevertheless.
FEELING YOU – FT DEEP KALSI
Somehow, sonically, confusing. Lyrically, Deep and Dilin keep it tight. A little out there and experimental, it takes the path less travelled.
HAAN – FT HARJAS & RASHMEET KAUR
Announces its own arrival with an overdose of onomatopoeia thrown in. As ‘me, me, me’ as it gets, Harjas leaves it rough around the edges while Rashmeet brings in a full-on desi touch.
The song that’s this album’s Baby Marvake Maanegi, just more family-friendly (and not at all double-meaning). Wholesome and a whole lot less objectifying, it has Raftaar punning himself to glory.
BOTTAL WARGI – FT JORDAN SANDHU & BUNTY BAINS
The all-out Punjabi banger, is as son-of-the-pind as it gets. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the man isn’t running out of adjectives.
NACHNE KA SHAUNQ – FT BRODHA V
Dilin shows the audience a mirror that tells you why most of the popular music you hear these days is mostly mediocre dance numbers. He and Brodha take the piss out of the system and the way things are.
SUPERMAN – FT MANJ MUSIK
Raftaar brings on his mentor for this ‘maa made me the man I am’ ode. A heartfelt song that illustrates how a son will always be his mother’s SUPERMAN. And you have to listen all to the very end to know why this song is going to get people ‘pissed off’ and ‘emotional’ at the same time.
Fame might be a prison to those in the know and Raftaar knows. Dilin knows where he stands at this point in time and is deeply aware of how that magnifies the attention he gets and how each action of his gets microscopically analysed.
DOWN – FT KR$NA
Social media, his work and his circle of ’dosts’ (some who’ve turned ‘ghosts’) are on Dilin’s mind here. And he wants some me-time here. He’s drowning his sorrows lightly but something bears heavy on him and he wants to be left alone until he sobers down. Coping whatever way one sees fit, I guess.
Lyrically, this one is fire. The pride is palpable. Dilin’s come up the hard way. He’s proud about where he’s at because he has worked hard to get where he is. And it shows. Needs to be said, though… it starts out fleetingly like DIVINE’s Kohinoor, but that moment passes just as quickly as it registers. A perfect closer to the album, Dilin is all about being your ‘bhai’. Fam jam it is, then!
If ZERO TO INFINITY showcased Raftaar’s versatility as a musician with the ability to craft a well-packaged album crammed with hummable hits, MR NAIR gets a tad-bit indulgent, despite the obvious authenticity. At twice the number of tracks his debut album had, one expected MR NAIR to be dripping in finesse throughout. It just about gets there.>