“Savage Remix” [Megan Thee Stallion, feat. Beyoncé] – lyrics for English students

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Have you ever wanted to practice your English while listening to Megan Thee Stallion? Well, you’re in luck! Take a listen to the song and read the lyrics. Learn some new vocabulary, phrases, or cultural pointers here in Lyrics “Explained.” If you have time, answer some follow-up questions below and read some other lyrics here on CultSurf!

Queen B, want no smoke with me (Okay)

  • *You don’t want any smoke… “Smoke” here refers to a conflict. It probably comes from guns, since sometimes people say smoke to refer to guns or shooting.

Been turnt, this motherf***** up eight hundred degree (Yeah)

  • *I’ve been turnt… “Turnt” means having lots of fun, feeling good about yourself, etc. It comes from “turned up” which means about the same thing. “Turning it up” refers to making the temperature hotter, or making things more exciting and fun. *Eight hundred degrees…

My whole team eat, chef’s kiss, she’s a treat (Mwah)

  • *My whole team eats… “Eat” in this slang sense means to get money and to have success. Remember that “bread” and “cheese” are also terms for money. A “treat” is normally something tasty to eat like candy. It can also be used to talk about a situation, event, or person that is really nice and that you like, almost like it is a gift. “Coming to see you during the holidays is always a treat.”

Ooh, she so bougie, bougie, bon appétit

  • *She is so bougie… “Bougie” is another word for fancy or someone who has expensive taste. “Bon appétit” comes from French and is used in many languages to mean “enjoy your food.” This mixes well with the word “bougie” which comes from the French word bourgeoisie. Also because the French language, fashion, and food are considered fancy by many Americans and others.

I’m a savage (Yeah), attitude nasty (Yeah, ah)

  • “Savage” has become a way to compliment someone who is really cool, has lots of style, skill, and other good features. “Nasty” normally means that some food doesn’t taste good. In a sensual way, it can mean that someone is highly sexual and acts inappropriately. Having a “nasty attitude” means to be upset or angry about something. Megan is probably mixing all of these meanings into one.

Talk big s***, but my bank account match it (Ooh)

  • *my bank account matches it… To “talk s**” (also “talk crap,” “talk mess,” “talk stuff”) is to talk badly about someone or to brag about yourself. Basically she brags a lot about herself but she actually has the money to prove it, or to back it up.

Hood, but I’m classy, rich, but I’m ratchet (Oh, ah)

  • The “hood” is a lower-class neighborhood usually for underprivileged communities or ethnic minorities. Often these are places with more poor people, drug trafficking or gang violence, thought not always. To “be hood” is to act like the stereotypical person from these kinds of neighborhoods, which could mean loud, confident, but also enjoying fights and conflict. Again, this is the stereotype. “Ratchet” is a similar term that is used to describe women who act loud, cause conflict, and can get very “in-your-face.” It’s like she’s saying she’s the best and worst all wrapped into one.

Haters kept my name in they mouth, now they gaggin’ (Ah, ah)

  • *my name in their mouth, now they are gagging… She means that her haters talk about her a lot or criticize her. “Gag” is a form of choking, so her haters are now choking on Megan’s success. The origin of this phrase might be to “make someone eat their words.” This means to prove somebody wrong and be successful, especially when others are criticizing you. “John always calls me stupid. I’ll make him eat his words when I go to college.”

Bougie, he say, “The way that thang move, it’s a movie” (Ooh-oh)

  • *he says, “The way that thing moves… “Thang” is just another way to pronounce “thing.” It’s usually used more often by black Americans to add emphasis to that word. Here you might be able to guess what “thang” she’s talking about.

I told that boy, “We gotta keep it low, leave me the room key” (Ooh-oh)

  • This line comes from the term “down low” or “keep it on the down low.” Sometimes people say “on the low” or “low down” but it’s basically the same. The “low” is a secret or something secretive. The “room key” refers to a hotel room. Megan is showing her dominance by kicking her “boy” out of the room.

I done bled the block and now it’s hot, b****, I’m Tunechi (Ooh-oh)

  • *I have bled the block… Saying “done” like this is another way to say that “you have gotten done doing something” or you “finished something.” “Ouch! I done hit my toe!” “Bleed” here is related to the slang word “kill” which means to have a lot of success in something. Megan “bled the block” so she had a lot of success (in music, I’m guessing) on her block, or in her city. “Hot” of course means it is fresh, new, and everyone likes it. “Tunechi” is another name for rapper Lil Wayne. He made a famous song a while ago called “Tha Block is Hot“. Lil Wayne is also a very good and respected rapper, so she is kind of paying respect to him.

A mood and I’m moody, ah

  • A “mood” is a special feeling. Saying something is “mood” has become popular because of social media and hashtags. “Moody” usually is used to call someone emotional or dramatic.
Learning how to be bougie… Photo by David Suarez on Unsplash

I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah (Hey, hey, nasty)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, woah, woah, what’s happening?)

  • “Acting stupid” doesn’t necessarily mean that she is acting dumb or unintelligently. Sometimes “stupid” can mean funny, silly, or crazy. The way she pronounces “acting” like “ackin” is an informal way that some people might pronounce this word. Again, it’s more common in African American communities. Her “what’s happening?” isn’t a real question really. It’s just a rhetorical question seeing if anyone has something to say now. She’s doing so well that she leaves her haters speechless!

B****, what’s happening? (Woah, woah, okay)

B****, I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Ratchet)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Nasty)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, ooh-oh)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ooh-oh)

Hips TikTok when I dance (Dance)

TikTok logo.svg
  • “TikTok” is the name of a famous social media app, maybe you’ve heard of it? It has a double meaning here though, since “tick-tock” is the sound a clock makes when the hands move. It’s like saying her hips shake and move back and forth like a clock. A lot of people view and like videos on TikTok, so it can also mean that her hips get lots of love.

On that Demon Time, she might start a OnlyFans (OnlyFans)

OnlyFans logo.svg
  • “Demon Time” is a series on the OnlyFans website that has to do with strippers and erotic dancing. OnlyFans is a place where people can post exclusive content directly to their fans and interact with them. It’s kind of known for having provocative content so that’s where the reference comes from.

Big B and that B stand for bands

  • *that B stands for… “Bands” is the same as money; a thousand dollars is one band.

If you wanna see some real a**, baby, here’s your chance

I say, left cheek, right cheek, drop it low, then swang (Swang)

  • “Swang” is the same as “swing.” It’s same idea as “thang” and “thing” from before.

Texas up in this thang (Thang), put you up on this game (Game)

  • To “put someone on the game” is to make someone attracted to you or what you are doing, or to get them “hooked” onto something.

IVY PARK on my frame (Frame), gang, gang, gang, gang (Gang)

  • Ivy Park is a clothing brand founded by Beyoncé. It’s on her “frame” or body, so she’s wearing her own brand clothing. “Gang” is just something that some people say to show excitement or enthusiasm for your “crew” or the people you represent. It comes from a song too, “GANG GANG” by Jackboys.

If you don’t jump to put jeans on, baby, you don’t feel my pain (Hol’ up)

  • “Hold up” is the same as “wait a minute.” This lyric is a reference to her butt, by the way.

Please don’t get me hype (I’m hype), write my name in ice (Ice, ice, ice)

  • To “get hype” is to get excited. It can also mean to get out of control, which is probably how Beyoncé means it. “Ice” in slang can mean diamonds. Writing her name in diamonds would be cool, and it also refers to her being “cold” or really good at what she does, maybe ruthless or someone hard to compete against. This comes from the phrase “write my name in stone” which means you are famous forever and people will always know your name.

Can’t argue with these lazy b******, I just raise my price

I’m a boss, I’m a leader, I pull up in my two-seater

  • “Two-seater” is a sports car with just two seats. It can also mean a person with a really big butt.
Only 2 can fit in this thing… Photo by Karol Smoczynski on Unsplash

And my mama was a savage, n****, got this s*** from Tina

  • Beyoncé’s mom’s name is Tina

I’m a savage, yeah

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Ratchet, yeah)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah (Okay)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, I’m a savage, yeah

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Woah, woah, woah, okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Ooh, ooh, okay)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Woah, ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ah)

Like Beyoncé, like me (Like me)

He want a b**** like thee Stallion with the knees (With the knees)

  • *He wants a… Megan is referring to the way she dances.

He be like, “Damn, how that thang movin’ in them jeans?” (Yeah, yeah, them jeans)

  • *He’s thinking… or He is like… How is that thing moving in those jeans? Saying “like” can be used to introduce a thought or dialogue in informal speech. “I was like, Come over, and he was like, Okay.” In informal speech some people say “them” when they mean “those.” “Them are some nice shoes! I want to buy them.”

Ayy, even D4L couldn’t do it like me, like me

  • “D4L” (Down For Life) is a rap group based in Atlanta that was popular in the early 2000s, especially for their song “Laffy Taffy.” They made a song called “Betcha Can’t Do it Like Me” which is probably what she’s referring to. D4L was like a one-hit-wonder, so she might be saying that she can make lots of hit songs.

Ooh, ah, ooh

I done got this body ready just for you

Girl, I hope he don’t catch me messin’ ’round with you

  • *I hope he doesn’t catch me messing around… To “catch” someone in this sense means to find them doing something they aren’t supposed to do. To “mess around” can be another way to say cheating on someone or sleeping with someone. It can also be just spending time with someone or having fun. Mess around has other meanings too, but these are some of them.

Talkin’ to myself in the mirror like, “B****, you my boo

  • *you are my boo… “Boo” is a loving term that you call someone you love and appreciate like a partner, spouse, and less commonly a family member. Here she’s calling herself “boo” in the mirror.

I’m the s***, ooh

  • Saying this means that you are really great and awesome. It sounds like a contradiction, but that’s what it means.

I need a mop to clean the floor, it’s too much drip, ooh

  • “Drip” is style, confidence, attractiveness, and all of that good stuff in one. She uses a metaphor, saying she has “drip” but comparing it to a literal liquid dripping on the floor that needs to be mopped.

I keep a knot, I keep a watch, I keep a whip, ooh (Keep it real, ooh)

  • These are all things used to control or dominate someone. A knot (she keeps her men tied, they are stuck with her), a watch (she keeps them on the clock, as if they were working for her), and a whip (like slavery, basically, or maybe like Fifty Shades of Grey?). To “keep it real” means to be open, tell the truth, and show things the way they really are. Not hiding or lying about yourself.

Let’s play a game, Simon says I’m still that b****, ayy

  • “Simon says” is a schoolyard game where one person is in charge (Simon) and everyone else has to do what that person says. “Simon says, touch your toes. Simon says, stomp your feet” etc. When someone says, “I’m that __,” it means that they are the best or the one being talked about. “Wait, so who are you?” “I’m that dude. Ask your friends, they know.” Megan also could be saying that she is the same as before and hasn’t changed her ways, in a good way.

I’m still that b****, yuh (Ah)

I’m a savage, yeah (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet (Okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, yeah

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, what’s happening? (Ah, what’s up?)

B****, I’m a savage, yuh (Okay)

Classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah (Woah, woah, woah, okay)

Sassy, moody, nasty, huh (Ooh, ooh)

Acting stupid, what’s happening? (Ooh, ooh, ah)

B****, what’s happening? (Ayy, ah, ah)

I heard they askin‘ for the Queen, they brought some cameras in here

  • *I heard that they were asking for the Queen…

I’m a bad b****, she’s a savage, no comparison here

  • A “bad B-word” is a term of respect and admiration for a woman who takes care of her business, has good looks, makes good money, and so on. Not all women like this term and it could be offensive depending on who says it or hears it. This goes back to the meaning of “bad” as something really good or cool.

I’ma flip my hair and look back while I twerk in the mirror

  • *I’m going to flip… You should know what twerking is. If not, just look up Miley Cyrus or somebody. Better yet, watch a Megan Thee Stallion video.

All this money in the room, think some scammers in here

Making that money— Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com
  • A “scammer” is someone who tricks others into making money for themselves or makes money in a number of illegal ways. Megan and B make so much money that it looks as if they were doing it illegally.

I’m comin’ straight up out that Third (ah)

  • To “come straight up out of” something just means to come out of it or come from it. “Straight up out” here just adds rhythm and emphasis to the sentence, but it doesn’t change the meaning in any major way. Think of the slogan “Straight Outta Compton” (NWA came directly from Compton). The “Third” she refers to is the Third Ward of Houston, which I guess is where Beyoncé lived for a while. Interestingly, the way she pronounces “ah” after Third sounds like she could be saying “Third eye”, which is a light reference to the mystic third eye and deep perception. It’s actually referenced quite often in modern music and could just be used to mean a deeper level of awareness and success. It’s kind of associated with the Illuminati too …

I whip the whip like I stirred it (Stirred)

  • “Whip” is a slang term for a car. When talking about cooking, “whip” means to stir something quickly and repeatedly until it forms a foam or cream. That’s why she also says “stir.” Basically, she’s driving her fancy car as if she were whipping some type of food, driving it in circles, doing tricks in her car, and so on.

Woodgrain, we swervin, keepin’ his mind all on these curves (Uh)

Curvy wood design– Photo by DLKR Life on Pexels.com
  • *We are swerving… “Woodgrain” is a finish on wood that makes it look more natural. The design of woodgrain has lots of curves and swirls in it. To “swerve” is to curve quickly, usually in a car around a corner or sharp turn.

Coupe fly like a bird (Bird), cold on ’em like, “Brrr” (Ice)

  • “Coupe” is another word for a nice car or two-seater, too. Also, a coop is a place where chickens and sometimes other birds are kept, so she plays with this pronunciation. “Fly” here has the slang meaning of being stylish and attractive, although she compares it to the literal sense of a flying bird. “Cold” here probably has a mixed meaning of ice (diamonds and jewelry) and looking really good, fresh, stylish, etc. Cold is an adjective but she uses it like a verb, which happens a lot in English. “Brrr” is the sound someone makes when they are cold (temperature). It’s also the sound rapper Gucci Mane makes a lot in his music, much for the same reasons as Beyoncé just now.

Always keep my words, no, I don’t do crosswords

  • To “keep your word” means to be honest and do what you said you were going to do. It’s like not giving up. “Crosswords” are those word puzzles that you see in newspapers or puzzle booklets. She plays with the idea of a crossword puzzle and “crossing” someone, meaning to lie, trick, or cheat them. It’s also like saying “she doesn’t go back on her word” (she doesn’t say one thing and do another).

Stallion when I ride, he like them hot girls with them hips, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)

  • *He likes those hot girls with those hips…

I hopped that s***, the way I hopped out and slid, ah (Skrrt, skrrt)

  • Repeating “skrrt skrrt” makes me think she really is referring to a car. She hopped out and slid (got out of) her car. That sound is very popular in hip-hop music lately, and it almost always is talking about a fancy car, usually when someone is arriving or leaving somewhere. I’ll leave you to figure out the rest of what she means.

I pop my s***, now watch me pop up again, ah (Woah)

  • This line is more inappropriate but an interesting note: to “pop up” can mean to show up or appear unexpectedly.

I mop the floor, now watch me sweep up these Ms, ’cause I— (Ah)

  • Mopping the floor is a reference to the previous line talking about “drip.” Now she’s sweeping up “Ms” (millions of dollars).

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And the lyrics repeat.

Wow, that was a lot. This song is packed full of slang, informal expressions, double meanings, and pop-culture references. The whole song is basically about how cool, stylish, and awesome these two women are. They make lots of money, are sexy, close big business deals, and can walk the talk. There’s nothing much more to explain here.

Questions:

  1. What did you think of this song? Do you prefer the original or the remix?
  2. Why do you think they focus so much on their physical attributes? Does hip-hop as a genre encourage this?
  3. What’s your favorite Beyoncé or Megan Thee Stallion song? What is that song about?
  4. Would you rather be a savage, classy, nasty, bougie, ratchet, or sassy? (What’s happening)

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Cover image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63308428

Aren’t there a lot of black people in America, like on T.V.? – Black identity in the USA

The story of the U.S. is a complicated and controversial one, and few things add to that controversy than the question of race. Topics related to race, slavery, civil rights, citizenship, and even cultural identity can be traced to one of America’s most important groups of people. Speaking of that cultural identity you, as a foreigner, might have noticed that many famous movies (Coming to America, Training Day, Black Panther), T.V. shows (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids), and social figures (Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey) are African Americans or star lots of black people. When you talk about singers and musical influence, black Americans almost take home the prize for most impactful internationally. With all this influence, you might expect to go to the U.S. and see tons of black folks walking around everywhere. But are there really that many of us?

Fortnite now has a Black Panther skin and a Wakanda Forever emote - Polygon
Even Fortnite uses black culture, Wakanda Forever! from Polygon.com

I previously wrote about the misconception of America being pretty much all white, but this is an interesting turn of thinking. Maybe after seeing and listening to so many things featuring black people, you might conclude:

Hey, there has to be a lot of black people in the U.S., right? Why else would they be so prevalent on T.V. and music and all that?

Well, the answer would be no; black people in America aren’t as prevalent as you might think.

How it can feel to be black in America sometimes… Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

To be fair, even I was surprised by how many African Americans there truly are. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of black Americans. As I said in a previous post, black people are actually a majority or almost half the population in several cities across the country, in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and many others. Despite all that, there are almost 330 million Americans, and people who identify as only black are 13.4% (about 44 million). So yes, that is a lot of black people, but it’s a small number compared to all the other people in the country.

Of course, you have to remember that many African Americans are not fully “black” but may identify as black because of reasons related to cultural identity, family ties, or simply not thinking that much about the question. You might find a light-skinned person with African ancestry more likely to identify as “black” if he or she grew up around mostly black people, lives around mostly black people, and identifies mostly with black American culture. This goes back to the One Drop Rule in the U.S., to which I’ll leave a link for more information down below. That also leaves us with blacks who might consider themselves “mixed-race” even though they are darker-skinned, but that’s a little less common. By the way, colored and mulatto used to be acceptable terms for mixed people, but they are considered offensive by most people nowadays.

Although black people practically make up a small minority in the U.S., there are reasons why they might seem so prevalent on T.V. and other media. One is that the country is huge! 13 percent of 330 million is still a ton of people, so of course, they seem like a lot. Another point is that many of these people went to urban areas like big cities after slavery and especially after suffering discrimination/violence in the South. Cities are where most of the cultural output comes from, so that’s why we seem to have so many black actors, musicians, musical styles, and social figures. Several of these figures exist purely because of the discrimination blacks have suffered. Black people in politics are on the rise recently too, so that could add to this misconception.

One more point I want to make is that black people have been severely and openly discriminated against in the U.S. for centuries, and people who supported slavery had all kinds of misconceptions about race, ethnicity, and what was good for the nation. Of course black people, and almost any minority in fact, have suffered all over the world, but the U.S. handled it a bit differently. After creating some highly significant social leaders and leading its own power movements, a big push has been made by black Americans to support each other, promote each other, and work with each other. There has been such a big momentum with black people trying to “catch up” with white Americans and have equality that this has allowed black people to be present in almost all facets of American life. Think of “#OscarsSoWhite” and the following year when a ton of black movies and filmmakers won awards. Even though black Americans in general are pretty well represented and better off than black people in almost all other American countries (think of Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, and many African nations for that matter), there is always a push for more equality and representation. I suppose all people deserve this and I’m glad to help represent my country and ancestry, even if it’s in a subtle, blog-writing way.

Black-ish guy making a movie, Photo by KASHILEMBO WABU

Even if there aren’t as much of us as you might have thought, I encourage you to keep listening to our music, keep watching our T.V., and keep supporting our social movements. Black people just want respect like anybody else, and I’m sure that they’d be proud to know how truly influential black U.S. culture has been all over the world. Keep up the support!

Speaking of support, I appreciate you for reading this post! Feel free to check the resources below to learn more and keep an open mind. If you liked this post, read some other ones here on the website. Tell me what you think of black American culture or people in the comments, or send me an email at tietewaller@gmail.com. Cool? Peace and take care!

Resources:

U.S. census info 2019: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219

America’s “One Drop Rule” explained: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/onedrop.html

About #OscarsSoWhite: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2016/02/02/oscars-academy-award-nominations-diversity/79645542/

society + Doctor Sleep (2019) – What’s it say about us?

curtesy of YouTube

This post is going to be a little different than what you’ve seen before. We’ve looked at music, American society, and even a couple of slang terms. I figured well, I also love movies, so why the heck not do a movie section? Of course, movies tend to be a lot longer than songs and so I’m not going to analyze every line from the screenplay of Doctor Sleep (but you wish!). Instead, I’m going to focus on some elements and imagery from the movie and explain how these things relate to American society, or maybe what they reveal about the culture.

Sound interesting? Sure it does! So let’s keep reading.

I’d also like to point out that this is mainly for English students or foreign people who are curious about American society, just as a warning that some things may sound redundant if you are an English-speaker or American. Though, of course, anyone is welcome!

Doctor Sleep — not to get confused with Doctor Strange — is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It was made in 2019 and is a sequel to The Shining from 1980. Well, that took long enough! Besides the fact of it being a sequel, I want to mention this because The Shining has been a definitive cultural event since it came out. Not everyone has seen the movie — in fact, lots of people I know haven’t, which is mind … POOSH — but pretty much everyone recognizes at least some of the scenes from this movie.

credit from Fandom, here

The sinister opening music from the score … the waves of splashing blood pouring through the halls … the twin girls staring down the hall with their evil eyes … Jack Nicholson screaming “Here’s Johnny!” as he axes down a door. I mean, there are just too many iconic scenes to go on. The popular impact of The Shining makes today’s subject so significant too, even if it’s a mere sequel.

Just like with its predecessor, Doctor Sleep has several iconic scenes and shots, including a girl running her hands through the mental “files” of her witch foe, people flying in and out of each other’s minds, and the iconic “REDRUM” spelling itself so ominously on the cracked walls. But back to the topic: What does this movie say about America? Well, let’s see…

One noticeable aspect of the movie is the different regions of the country we see the characters going to. Stephen King, who is the author of the books, is from Maine, a state in New England. If you notice in the movie they’re mostly in some town in New Hampshire. There are little brick buildings, central church chapels, and cute little parks in the middle of town. This layout is of the classic New England town. Given the fact that Danny, the lead character, goes there to cleanse and heal from alcoholism, you can tell that these places are considered locations where you can live peacefully, get away from the noise of the city, and enjoy the fall leaves. On the other hand, when Danny is in Florida, he gets high on drugs and alcohol all the time and sleeps around with strange women, which lets you know how other Americans might view Florida. That’s also where the creepy True Knots are first seen attacking that little girl. Sorry, Florida. Harsh.

a field like you might see in the Midwest, Photo by Lawrence Hookham on Unsplash

Later on, they go to Colorado which is full of mountains, forest, and pretty lakes, while we go to Iowa and see nothing but cornfields and baseball diamonds. This probably wasn’t on accident, because Iowa and the Midwest, in general, are seen as centers for agriculture and farming, especially corn. They are also seen as the “heartland” of America, which is why you get such an important symbol like baseball there. A poor boy gets abducted in Iowa, and what happens to him also has something to say about our society.

I don’t know if this started in the U.S. or was brought here by Eastern Europeans, but gypsies are a controversial topic from this movie. Sometimes as kids, people are told to watch out for gypsies because they eat children or some nonsense. True to the myth, that’s pretty much what happens in the movie. Gypsies are based on the ethnic Roma or Romani people, but often any group of people that travel around together without any kind of direction or stability are generally considered gypsies. Especially if they’re in a trailer.

a trailer-home, Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

Trailers have a lot of importance in America. People use trailers to travel long distances, go camping, and to live in, amongst other things. A popular notion too is that “gypsies” or just people without any stable home roam around the country in a trailer. The scene of the True Knot picking up the boy in Iowa as well as the scene where Danny arrives with Abra, the other main character, at her home, shed light on this. Abra’s dad has a little freak-out session and nearly tries to kill Danny.

These two scenes show how kids in America are taught to deal with strangers (Don’t get into a car with them) and how parents react when they see their children, especially daughters, with strange adults. This seems logical, but I have seen in some other countries that kids interacting with unknown adults is not the most outrageous thing that could happen. No one wants their child to get abducted, but I notice in America, parents seem to be especially cautious in this sense compared to some other countries. Maybe this is because there are tons of cases of child abduction, child molestation, and child abuse that parents become especially protective. Children are a lot less likely to talk to strangers, even if they are genuine and nice people, because of this worry that American parents tend to put into their heads. I blame investigative shows like 20/20 and channels like Investigation Discovery (ID) for this, but I guess they have good reasons.

classic neon movie theater, Photo by Jeff Pierre on Unsplash

I don’t have too much else to say. You could see how Abra’s house was really big and nice, a sort of “classic American home” at least nowadays. We also saw some racial diversity in the movie, kind of lending to the push for more diversity in movies and media in recent years. I think that’s cool. Danny works at a convalescent home (commonly an “old folks home” or “retirement home”) helping the seniors go to sleep … forever. This is more of a Western thing, I think, where it’s acceptable and even pretty common to send old people to live in these care facilities instead of taking care of them at home. The movie theater where the girl, Andi I think, gets recruited to the True Knot team of vagabonds is a kind of classic American movie theater. You get the big neon sign out front with the movie titles on it, a ticket booth, and a big theater house full of seats and balconies and whatnot. Other than that, many Americans like a good scare, a good thrill, a mystic tale of spirit-suckers that get defeated by a living mansion burning to the ground. Or was it a hotel? Those hats the True Knot were wearing are kind of in style with certain hipster communities. I’ll talk about them another day.

I left the trailer up top if you’re interested. Also, did you notice anything else about Doctor Sleep that speaks on American society or society at large? And if any of you saw this movie, what did you think of it? Tell me in the comments, or email me at tietewaller@gmail.com. Stay well!

“20 Dollar” [M.I.A.] – lyrics for English students

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Flag of Sri Lanka
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AK’s and goat fry. Read the song lyrics below and learn some new English idioms, phrases, or cultural explanations. And don’t forget to watch the video and read more below!

War! War! War!

Talking about y’all’s such a bore

  • *Talking about you all is …

I’d rather talk about moi

  • “Moi” means “me” in French.

Like do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa?

  • I’m sure you know, AK’s, or AK-47’s, are a type of assault rifle, probably the most referenced rifle in pop culture. Also, saying “up in” someplace is just a more colorful way to say “in” someplace. The “up” has no real meaning here.
AK-47 – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre
An AK-47 from Wikipedia

20 dollars ain’t s*** to you

  • 20 dollars isn’t… Saying that something “ain’t s**” or “isn’t worth s***” means it isn’t worth anything, doesn’t mean anything, or it has a super low value/cost.

But that’s how much they are

So they’re gonna use the s*** just to get far

  • To “go far” or “get far” usually means to become successful. “You have a great voice! You’re going to go far.” It can also mean to escape a current situation.

Is gold, diamonds helping ya?

  • *Are gold and diamonds helping you? “Ya” is a popular way for many English speakers to pronounce “you” informally.

Don’t you like my bandanna?

  • A bandanna is usually worn on the face of criminals, like bandits. It can also be used by liberation fighters, protestors, or rebels, which is what I assume M.I.A. is referring to.
Classic Black Paisley Bandana | Apparel @ Hoo-rag
A pandemic-style bandanna from Hoorag

My stains hang low, on my shirt’s like “Ay-ya-ya!

  • “Stains” might represent bloodstains, as with someone who has been fighting a tough battle. This phrase probably comes from a song by Jibbs called “Chain Hang Low.” It’s a hip-hop song that came out a year before this one, so it might have influenced M.I.A.’s lyric here. Stain rhymes with chain. That last “ay-ya-ya” is just something you might say if you’re stressed, upset, or confused. Listen to “Chain’s Hang Low” here.

Got monkey brains and banana

  • *I’ve got… “Monkey brains” or “banana brains” is another way of saying that someone has disorganized and wild thoughts, or that they’re a little crazy. A similar phrase is something is bananas. “This beat is bananas!”

I’ll hit you with my antenna

  • She is talking about a radio antenna. To “hit” someone, besides physically striking them, can also be to figuratively strike them. You can hit someone with a song, with some advice, or with your opinion, for example. Basically, M.I.A. will “hit” us with her music and her style on the radio. Also, hitting someone with a thin metal stick, like an antenna, makes me think of beating or whipping someone for discipline.

I put soap in my eye

Make it red so I look rawr-rawr-rawr!

  • I can’t tell if she’s saying “rawr” or “raw.” Either way, her red eyes will make her look scary, intimidating, or really cool. “Raw” in slang also has these meanings. “Rawr” is the sound a big cat makes, like a lion or tiger. Could be something to do with the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group in Sri Lanka that influenced M.I.A.’s family and ancestral country.

So I woke up with my Holy Quran and found out I like Cadillac

  • The way she says “Cadillac” almost sounds like she’s saying “Allah,” meaning God in Arabic. This plays with the previous line about the Quran. Cadillac is an American brand and a representation of a strong, American product. This line might mean that she read the Quran (the Arab/Eastern world) and decided she preferred the Cadillac (the American/Western world). Or, she read the Quran (religion) and decided she preferred a Cadillac (consumerism, buying things, earthly things). There could be a lot of interpretations from this quick lyric.

So we’re shooting until the song is up

  • If something “is up,” that means it ends. This is represented in the phrase, “You’re time is up.” Your time is finished.

Little boys are acting up

  • To “act up” is to be bad or misbehave. Kids are good at acting up.

And baby mothers are going crazy

  • This is related to “baby mama” which is a very popular way to refer to the mother of someone’s child. It has turned into a pop-culture reference to a certain class of people that is uneducated, has lots of babies outside of marriage, and is usually lower class or has bad taste. “What are you gonna do if you quit school? Turn into some guy’s baby mama?”

And the leaders all around cracking up

  • *And the leaders are all around … To “crack up” here means to laugh a lot, or laugh really loudly. “That joke always cracks me up!”

We goat-rich, we fry

  • *We’re goat rich… “Goat rich” isn’t a very popular term at least in American English. I can imagine that it refers to someone who has a lot of goats or livestock (animals for farming and produce). So M.I.A. and the people she represents are not rich in money, but have lots of livestock and make money in a simple, humble, and traditional way. In lots of poorer countries or regions, people still live off of trading and raising animals. Also, adding “rich” after a noun means that you have as much wealth as that thing. “I’m not Zuckerberg rich, but I make good money.”

Price of living in a shanty town just seems very high

  • *The price of … A shanty town is a type of improvised community for people who are either poor or live in extreme poverty. They are usually made of wood, tarp and other plastic, or anything sturdy enough to build a small improvised home. In some countries, these communities can be more dangerous, hold gang activity, trafficking, or just have bad sanitation. Another word for the same idea is “slum.” Shanty towns often start as temporary camps or communities that evolve over time into permanent neighborhoods or miniature towns. That’s why the price (emotionally, or for one’s wellbeing) of living in one can be high.
Shanty town along the Mekong River - Picture of Sundance Riverside Hotel,  Phnom Penh - Tripadvisor
A common shanty town/slum, TripAdvisor

But we still like T.I.

  • T.I. is a famous rapper from the U.S. who represents Atlanta, Georgia. This line can mean that even though they live in poor conditions, they still listen to American music, or hip hop, and still like to have fun.

But we still look fly

  • To “look fly” is to be dressed really nicely or have good style in appearance.

Dancing as we’re shooting up

  • Again, the “up” doesn’t necessarily have meaning. They might be shooting “up” into the sky, or shooting up a place (shooting it a bunch of times). This is similar to the idea to “beat up,” meaning to beat or hit a bunch of times.

And looting just to get by

  • To “loot” is to steal. It’s more of an old-fashioned word, and in the U.S. it reminds most people of pirates who would loot other ships. Also, “loot” can be an informal term for money, in general. Of course, to “get by” means to survive some situation or to get through something difficult.

With your feet on the air

Your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it – yeah!

Your head’ll collapse when there’s nothin’ in it

And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?

  • These four lines of the chorus were taken from a song by Pixies, “Where is My Mind.” Besides that, it’s just a really cool, trippy, interesting thing to put into a song. Listen to “Where is My Mind” here.

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

War! War! War!

Who made me like this?

Was it me and God in co-production?

My Devil’s on speed-dial

  • To have someone on “speed-dial” is to have their number saved and easily accessible. Basically, it means they’re the first person you call when you want something or they are your favorite person to talk to.

Every time I take the wrong direction

All I want is one thing and that is what you got

  • *that is what you’ve got. Or *that is what you have. To me, it also sounds like she could be saying “and that is what you want.” Either way, she wants what someone else has or desires.

Sometimes I go lose my mind, and I feel numb

There’s 24 hours in a day

  • *There are 24 hours …

I used to spilt it 8, 8, 8

That’s 8 – work, 8 – sleep, 8 for play!

Now I give it all it takes

  • To “give it all it takes” is to put in full effort, try as hard as you can.

Got people on the Internet with a new lack for the intellect

  • *You have people on … People on the internet have created a new way to be stupid, basically (lack of intellect). It almost sounds like she’s saying “a new life for the intellect,” but I’m not sure. “Lack” makes more sense to me, it sounds more like what she says, and it’s funnier.

People judge me so hard ’cause I don’t floss my titty set

  • *so hard because I don’t … To “floss” something means to show it off to others. This was before the “floss” dance, but it might be related (?). Titty is kind of a controversial word, and to lots of people, it can be offensive. I just wanted to note that it is a woman’s breast or boob.

I was born out of dirt like I’m porn in a skirt

  • I almost forgot to mention! So “dirty” can refer to something that is covered in dirt and has bad hygiene. It can also mean something that is naughty, sexual, or sleezy. So “dirt” here has a double meaning.

I was a little girl who made good, well au revoir, adieu

  • To “make good” is to make success or be successful at something. It usually has to do with monetary success. “Au revoir” and “adieu” mean See you later, and Goodbye in French. In many places of the English world, France is seen as a place that is rich, fancy, and high class. M.I.A. repeating French words in this song can be a reference to how other people might see her as fancy and high class now that she is making music on the radio and becoming famous. For her, this was especially true in the late 2000s.

I put people on the map that never seen a map

  • *that have never seen … Also, to be “put on the map” means that someone gets discovered by lots of people. They become a landmark much like the Statue of Liberty of Eiffel Tower (since we’re talking about France).

I’ve showed ’em something they’ve never seen

And hope they make it back!

  • “Make it back” here means to survive some wild situation, to come out on top, and to overcome. Think of a soldier “making it back” home after a war.

Then the lyrics repeat.

Sooo … This song is close and dear to my heart. It’s a song that made me fall in love with M.I.A., partly because of the weird and crazy instrumental, buzzing sounds, and her ominous chanting all throughout the song. But the lyrics are certainly a big source of my love for this song. It’s kind of a random song and the lyrics touch on multiple different issues. Most of the song is about M.I.A.’s newfound success and international fame, and how she is dealing with it. She talks about her humble beginnings, places she’s been and how hard life is in those places. She’s made success, but she doesn’t forget where she’s been. She definitely won’t let her listeners forget that there are places in the world where people make a living frying goats or where guns only cost 20 dollars, even if in the world of fame and fortune, that cost means almost nothing.

What did you think of this song? Can you understand her struggle between ridiculous wealth and cruel poverty? Do you know what M.I.A. stands for? Let me know in the comments! As always, if you want to send me a message or suggest a song for me to do next, please send me an email! tietewaller@gmail.com

Oh, and please listen to this song!