I enjoyed listening to this album after it was released in January of this year, but for some reason I’ve been revisiting it a TON lately. I wanted to really sit down and comb through it; hopefully if you missed it a few months ago, this blog will remind you that it exists and encourage you to give it a listen!
Going into this, I knew that Bobby wrote this album with the intention of telling a story. He said that it’s the story of a playboy who falls in love and gets his heart broken, but he picks himself back up again in the end.
Note: This album includes 4 SKIT tracks, which I’m going to skip over. They do serve as a way to transition between the different emotions of the album, though. So YOU shouldn’t skip them if you listen to the album all the way through!
1. U MAD
The lyrics for this quick-spitting track are, “The loser is doing better than expected. Bet you caught a stomach ache from jealousy.” The diss track vibes are strong with this one! I do love, though, when a diss track straight up thanks the haters, like this one does. He says because of them, he was able to become who he is. We’re also introduced to the storyline that Bobby talked about in this first track as he chants in the bridge, “Gangbuk representative playboy, ladies love cool boys. Taking away girlfriends’ hearts, even if it’s not necessary.” Bobby’s cocky alter-ego has entered the chat.
I didn’t love this song at first. Musically, there’s a tone of synth and legitimately random sounds happening in the background. However, if I’m working out and this song comes on, it’s a freaking banger. Or one time, I was driving home after running a ton of errands and this song came on. It really hit the spot in that moment, too. There are certain times where I find this song to be just what the doctor ordered. And the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it!
Immediately following the crazy high that “U MAD” brings, this track is the perfect second track. The energy level is the same and the “Gangbuk representative playboy” is back in business. He (VERY quickly) raps about how others are jealous, how he doesn’t beg, and how everyone else is second best compared to him. Following his song that challenges the haters, we get this full-on reminder that he’s a freaking rockstar.
I can’t get over that, “You need any sauce,” voiceover in the intro, followed by lyrics about how this rap is “fast food.” It’s allll in the details, my dudes. Besides the little things, something that I really love about Bobby’s rap style is the variety. He seamlessly goes from tongue twister style flows to these really melodic and sing-songy lines, from his deeper register up to a higher pitched set of notes. I never get tired of listening to him and no two songs ever sound the same. I think this song is a strong example of what he can do when it comes to his rap style. There’s a reason he’s the only KPop idol to ever win a season of Show Me the Money.
3. NO TIME
With song number 3, we get the party track that Bobby is so good at. Lines like, “God dang it, I feel so alive, let’s party till we die,” and “dance, make your booty go up down,” definitely switch things into party mode. The lyric “no time” is used in a couple of different ways; I’ll always be a fan of play-on-words. He uses it to mean that there’s “no time” to be bored, things will keep moving forward “in no time,” and there’s “no time” to lose. This club hit adds another layer to this playboy character that Bobby has introduced us to at the start of the album.
Something on this particular track that feels very Bobby to me is how he ends the longer notes in the bridge. When he says, “Put your hands up in the air,” that drawn out, scratchy tone in his voice is such a Bobby thing. It’s one of the details I’d notice right away and identify him as the performer of this track, if I didn’t already know it was him in advance. The man knows how to use his instrument to add style, interest, and flavor to every note.
4. BrEaK It DoWn
While listening to this album the first time through, I think this was the song that made me really sit up and start paying more attention. There was a thread connecting the sounds of the first 3 songs together and while I was tracking with it all, this song hit and it felt like we were starting to develop something new. It carries some of those party vibes from the previous track, but in a different way. In the chorus, he says, “We’re stupid bitches, which makes us happy,” but not all translations use that wording. Most say something like, “We’re very stupid,” but the former hits me just right. His use of the word “dog” in that sentence seems to have translators disagreeing on its meaning. That simple, repeating synth melody and the percussion makes this track stand out of the 4 so far. It has a brightness to it that the others don’t have, as well.
Bobby is the king of the bridge. He’s the Bridge King and I’m declaring him so right now. On this particular track, everything seems to slow down and in the lyrics, he says that he’s drunk and “freak everything but alcohol.” As the listener, I FEEL drunk listening to this section of the song. It’s like the room is spinning and I need to hold onto something to keep me steady. A genius choice, production-wise.
5. In THE DaRk
Soft rapping Bobby is my favorite Bobby and this track opens with those coma-inducing vocals. He uses this style on his most romantic tracks, which makes my heart have all the heart eyes. The instrumentals and the snaps create this atmosphere that feels very dream-like. And these lyrics are the kind that make my brain stop functioning. For example: “At night when everyone’s asleep, I’m lost in thoughts of you.” GOODBYE ME. “Maybe I’ll meet you in a dream…but my dream is just my dream. You can’t know my pathetic feelings.” IM GONE. “I could do better than anybody for you.” BUYS TICKET TO SEOUL. “Know that I like you. I just want to be there for the rest of my life.” NEVER COMES BACK TO AMERICA.
I feel like a lot of people don’t know this sweet side that Bobby has. In my brain, it’s his Kim Jiwon side. Lol. Bobby is his ridiculous, wild side. It’s songs like this one that get me sucked into whatever vortex he’s living in and want to set up permanent residence there. That sweet, romantic side is what made me fall in love with his first solo album and tracks like, “I LOVE YOU,” “TENDAE,” and “IN LOVE.” ESPECIALLY that last one. Oh, my heart. Giving Bobby a hug is now on my bucket list. Haha.
Instrumentally, this song feels brand new, yet it also seems to borrow styles from some of the earlier songs. So the transition through the middle part of the album is truly an experience. As for our storyline, our playboy is fully in love at this point. He tells her to say what she wants to do and they’ll do it, or where she wants to go and they’ll go there. “You’re my first love, you’re my lilac.” Lilacs symbolic purity and innocence, which seems to pair well with the idea of a first love.
Similarly to the previous song, there’s some sweetness and romance on this track that makes my heart flutter. But there’s something else in this song that stands out. Bobby may have this rough exterior a lot of the time, but he’s not afraid to write a sensitive track that puts his heart out there in the open. I know this song is part of the greater storyline, but the things we write have to come from somewhere true deep inside us. So when he says, “Let’s run away, my first love,” it feels like he’s got his heart on his sleeve. And I love that openness that he brings to the album’s table.
7. Ur SOUL Ur BodY (feat DK)
This is the song on the album that sent me into a freaking tailspin. I’m totally obsessed and I have been since the first time I heard it. Lyrically, this song connects with the previous one with references like a “rendezvous,” “you’re something new, girl,” and “you’re my first love,” all of which were lyrics in “LiLaC” as well. Unique to this song, though, is, “You make me sing. I pull my pants up higher.” Why do I have this visual of someone making a change in their life? Like he’s going from a carefree guy with sagging pants to a standup man who wants to be someone special for his woman? Lol. This song is the point in the story where the playboy is totally gone and the one-woman-kind-of-man has arrived.
DK has always been my vocal bias in iKON; I honestly think he’s terribly underrated. There’s something really dynamite about DK and Bobby when they’re on a track together, too. Their styles blend seamlessly together so that the whole track shines. This song is all sensitivity and sincerity.
The intro of this song is terribly, terribly deceiving. You have the sound of a phone ringing and ghost-like vocals, then…the freaking beat drops and tricksy Bobby enters the chat. That echo effect on the vocals that we heard in the intro comes back around in the bridge. I appreciate that because otherwise, that opening would be totally disconnected and super weird. Haha. It then circles back again as the outro of the track. The mix of those faraway vocals with the piano is too good. These lyrics are about being totally enraptured by someone’s beauty, to the point where you “just can’t enough.” But unfortunately, they’re not a free agent and you have to see them with someone else. This lyric always makes me giggle a little, for no real reason: “What the *beep* am I supposed to do when I see you with your man?” There’s an actual beep sound there. Haha.
The POV of this song is something you don’t want to miss. That phone ringing…then the listener is the one who answers…the lyrics are written in first person, using second person pronouns, like “you” makes the audience feel like he’s talking directly to them. It feels so personal that way! It also makes me blush a little bit. Haha. I feel like a guy is confessing to me and wants me to break up with my boyfriend. If I had a boyfriend, I might actually consider it. That’s the power of this song. Haha.
Bobby didn’t get the girl after he tried convincing her with that last track, so now he’s upset. “She’s a freaking liar.” He’s desperate. “I can’t live a single day without you.” He’s bitter. “The fact that you’re happy without me kills me twice.” He’s confused. “That’s ridiculous. This is love. You’re lying. You loved me.” He’s angry. “You didn’t notice the way you treat me.” These are the kind of lyrics you turn to when you honestly have no idea what you’re feeling, because it explores every single emotion possible. This is the kind of song I might direct people to as an example of how Bobby’s enunciations and pronunciations can totally change up the vibe of a song. From the way he spits out “freaking liar” to the mumbled way he repeats “I know, I know.”
Is it just me or could this have been a title track? It has so much grit to it and the vocals are perfectly produced. You don’t have to speak a word of Korean, or English, for that matter, to catch most of what he’s throwing out and feeling in this song. The instrumentals are another piece of what gets you to that conclusion. For example, the buildup into the second chorus is noteworthy. We drop out and suddenly the track is a good 85% vocals only, with a faint melody in the background. Then they bring it all back in just in time for the “she’s a freaking liar” refrain. Those highs and lows mirror the emotions of the lyrics. Pure genius.
10. HeartBROKEN PlaYBoY
You know a song is going to be a hit when it starts with a bass guitar groove. At least, that’s how I feel about that. You’re on your way to a “party, get down” kind of night. In the second verse, the drum kit comes in full force and it makes me want to jump around at a stranger’s house party. WHY? Hahaha. That picking bass comes back in during the bridge, but it’s layered with an electric guitar, too, which gives it a little more meat. You know what I maen? Like you could reach out and hold onto that instrumental line. This song is completely different from every other track on this album up to this point and somehow it still fits in!? The power of Bobby.
Add this song on your playlist right after Blackpink’s “Lovesick Girls” and you’re set for a bangin night. The story of this song follows up with the complaints of the “freaking liar” and it’s time for heartbroken Bobby to just let loose. He’s going to “party all night” with his “mother loving crew”; he doesn’t “feel lonely” and he’s “ready to take off.” My favorite lyric of all the gems is when he says, “I’ll be happy for you as long as you’re gone.” YES. That’s a feeling I don’t think I’ve ever been able to put into words on my own before. Whether you’re shaking off an unwanted breakup or you just want to party a little, this is the song to save.
11. RaiNinG (feat. JU-NE)
This album doesn’t have just one collab with another iKON member, it has TWO! Enter JU-NE. The story of our heartbroken playboy contines with this track; he’s broken up with the girl and partied his pain away. Now it’s time to cry. “The dark clouds in my heart, the dark clouds in my room, I said it’s raining.” Ok, it’s time to cry…a lot. He’s “drowining in whiskey alone” and wishes “someone would ask [him] why [he’s] crying.” He watches the days roll by and drowns his sorry one drink at a time. There’s a stark contrast between the desperation in the lyrics and the bouncy melody of the instrumentals. In the bridge, Ju-ne takes us to church with the, “Save our soul,” line, then Bobby adds an almost humorous “du du du” at the end. We gently go back and forth between sadness and catchy lightness. He looks forward to the future, though, when he says that he wants to get out of the sadness and looks for a fresh new journey.
This track is a solid example of what Bobby can do with a beat. Direct your attention to the second verse. Right after that first round of the chorus ends, Bobby takes us on a journey. He starts rapping in time with the beat, switches to double time, then to longer notes. He has this distinct way of rapping around the beat, the being perfectly in time, then taking me by surprise over and over again.
12. Let iT Go
It’s that time in our storyline to come out of that dark and sad room. “My life’s dark, but with time it’s bright.” We did all the sad steps post-breakup; now it’s time to pick ourselves back up by our boostraps, as my grandpa would say. There’s a lot of hope and encouragement here in these lyrics, like when he says, “Learn that you can only do one thing: let it go. I just wanna be light for the time being, no matter how long it takes.” I’m not usually a theorist, because I never feel smart enough to make any kind of theory. Haha. But in my heart, this song is for Hanbin. I love that idea. And in true Bobby fashion, he drops lyrics like, “As an adult, when I meet new people, rather than asking about their dream, I ask, ‘What are you doing?’ My brain is wider than my heart.” WHAT, POET BOBBY?
“I’m not asking you to give up. Take care not to let your guard down. Rather than just hanging on, let it go for a while.” It’s like he’s telling someone, or all of us, that it’s okay to let go of things that are getting us down. He’s giving us all permission to take care of ourselves. “You’ll be comfortable when you get on the right path.” He knows from experience that with time, all wounds are healed. I hope that “Let it go” repeated line speaks to your heart and pops into your mind when you need it the most. That happened to me just recently, to be honest. I got so frustrated at school and suddenly, I was thinking of this song and Bobby was encouraging me to just…let it go. “Goodbye to all the noise in the world…I’ll let it go for a moment and come back.” Sometimes you just have to walk away, breathe, and come back a little later. There’s nothing wrong with that! Bobby says so!
If I knew nothing about these songs except for who the featured artists were and you played me the first 3 seconds of this particular song, I would guess that this is the one Ju-ne would appear on. Haha. The boy loves him some rock and roll. Then we get those first vocals and it immediately reminds me of “U MAD”; all things come full circle in the end. The perfect blend of hip hop and rock is strong in this one. He doesn’t both genres SO WELL individually, but when they’re blending together in this way, the boy comes ALIVE.
”Center in hellish reality, I am Thanos’ alter-ego.” When you look at these lyrics, at best, it seems like a collection of intimidating gibberish. Haha. “No one can stop me. I follow a psycho-type.” Okay, great. Haha. “Money can’t buy happiness, that’s why the money keeps accumulating.” Sassy! It’s like it’s both nonsense and wildly deep all at the same time. That feels…like Bobby. Ha! There are also a couple of lines that remind me of his League of Legends track, the remix of “RISE”. It’s very much a fight song, like one of those that you listen to before a big battle, be it real or otherwise. Whatever kind of devil might be getting in your way or pulling you down, this song is song badass armor. I don’t even have any enemies at the moment, but I want to fight someone because of this song. Haha.
Which of these tracks is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!