JBarky Reviews Tablo's "Airbag"

Tablo’s “Airbag” was known in the Korean media as a song that expresses Tablo’s feelings regarding the aftermath of his Stanford diploma incident. (A blog wouldn’t believe that he graduated from Stanford and made Tablo’s life a living hell.)



The first time I got to hear the song, it was refreshing but also very easy to listen to. Naul’s vocals complement Tablo’s rap voice. The instrumental is somber and simple with a mix of the bass, acoustic guitar, piano, and drums. You can hear synthesizer sounds occasionally and a sad guitar riff as well. The song gives off a vibe somewhat similar to Dynamic Duo’s “Insomnia.”



(Both songs use acoustic guitar and are hip hop songs that describe the protagonist’s depressing emotions.)

Lately I’m hooked on this song and listening to it 24/7. Like most complicated rap songs, the lyrics don’t get you at first, but after several times listening to them you start to understand a bit more. Honestly, I feel like Tablo fits in better with this “poetic rapper” style of rapping. Below is a bit of an analysis of the lyrics!

The song itself is split up into three segments where Tablo is thinking to himself inside of a taxi.

Lyric Interpretation / Explanation

The first part of the rap, is where we find Tablo inside of a taxi, annoyed at how slow he is going. He listens in on the radio. He explains that he usually hates listening to radio DJs talk, but he leaves it alone in order to mute out his own thoughts. Even the expressionless taxi driver laughs at one of the radio DJ’s jokes, and Tablo realizes how isolated he has been because he doesn’t get it. Then, a song request goes through and it is a sad song he liked before. He wonders if that singer is alone as well, in a place “where long days fall asleep.” (That place sounds either lonely or peaceful no?)

The second part talks about Tablo feeling lonely. There are too many thoughts on his mind, so even when he drinks he doesn’t get drunk. But he still goes out to them anyways. He doesn’t know whether he hates being alone, or if he wants to make it obvious that he is alone. (Interesting lyrics here, because I think everybody goes through that sometimes… you don’t want to be alone because you feel lonely, but you do, and even when you do want to be alone, you still want people to know that you are alone?)

He asks himself, even if he had somebody next to him, is there any part of him left to give away? (When you fall in love with someone, you give a part of yourself, but he’s worried he might not have anything left of him.) He then focuses on the family photo inside of the cab, he wonders if he is wandering because he doesn’t have a home, or path. Tablo wonders if he is wandering because there are many places to go, but there is nobody waiting for him in those places.

The final part of the rap lyrics, Tablo just realizes that it was raining outside (making the setting a bit more depressing). He thinks of a girl who is probably doing well. He sees a “traffic accident report sign” (They have these signs on the side of South Korean roads that show how many people were died or injured in traffic accidents, the number is usually 0 or “1” for deaths.) Tablo is commenting how he sees the number one next to “Dead” and comments on how lonely it looks.

There are a lot of things in the lyrics that I like, but I think it is especially fitting that Tablo chose to write about being inside of a taxi, when he also wants an “airbag” in his life. The lyrics for this song were very poetic, I especially liked the expressions “I wonder if he is alone as well, where long days fall asleep,” “I don’t know if I hate being alone, or that I just want to make it obvious I am alone,” and the part where he notices the number 1 next to the “traffic accident report sign” and realizes how lonely it looks.

The moment I saw that part, I was reminded of one of my favorites, “One.” The song was written by Harry Nilsson and made famous by “Three Dog Night,” in 1969. My favorite rendition is Aimee Mann’s and this appeared on the film “Magnolia.”



All in all, this song isn’t a happy feel-good song, but a kind of desperate plea for help. I think the mark of a great artist (singer/rapper) is being able to make music that really speaks to the listener. “Airbag” does that for me, I mean c’mon, in life, who doesn’t want somebody else to help out when they are going through hard times.

Ack, hope you enjoyed the review, also if there are any other songs you would like to me review, don’t be afraid to tell me! 


jbarky is a senior editor for soompi.com. (Also the BEST) You can email him at barkjason@soompi.com, orfollow his twitter.com feed at @jjbarky

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