‘Butterfly Effect’ by Travis Scott – Lyrics for English Students

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Astroworld album cover by Travis Scott.jpg
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“BUTTERFLY EFFECT” is a song by Travis Scott, as you might know, and it came off of his 2017 album, Astroworld. Below are the lyrics with some explanations about expressions, grammar, and other less-obvious meanings of the song. I am no expert on this song or on Travis Scott, but this might help those of you learning or studying English to better understand the words. If you’d like, please watch the video and read the lyrics and explanations. Then take another listen to see how much you understand the second time. Ready?

Read the lyrics without my explanations on Genius

Other explanations: Where is the Butterfly Effect; Interesting Song Facts

More Lyrics “Explained”

“Butterfly Effect” Lyrics & Explanations

All the commas

  • Other meanings: This probably has to do with money. The more commas, the bigger the number is; 1(,)00(,)000(,)000(,) …

Murda on the beat so it’s not nice

  • Other meanings: This is a popular tagline from the producer on this song, Murda Beatz.

Ooh, hmm

For this life, I cannot change

  • Figurative speech / Philosophy: Just a note about the title: the “butterfly effect” is the idea that changing something small or subtle in the past — like killing a butterfly — can lead to a completely different present and future. It’s also the idea that something small like a butterfly beating its wings can make huge ripples (impacts) in time. This theory kind of rings throughout the song as Travis says he cannot change, as if his life is destined to be this way. The lyric also could mean that this new lifestyle cannot change who he really is. But, like a butterfly beating its wings in the past, his impact will be made on the world.

Hidden Hills, deep off in the main

  • Geography / Other meanings: Hidden Hills is an upscale, sort of exclusive city in the north Los Angeles area where lots of rich and famous people live. It also sounds like he could be saying “in the hills” which has the same connotation. That’s because in Los Angeles, many of the rich and fancy neighborhoods are either literally in the hills or have the name “hills.”
  • Not sure: The “deep off in the main” part is a little confusing, but it could just mean that the people in this society have deep ties, deep roots, or deep connections there. Or something else entirely.

M&M’s, sweet like candy cane

  • Figurative speech: We know M&M’s. Some like chocolate and others swear by peanut butter. He could be relating M&M’s to certain drugs like ecstasy, comparing the “high” feeling of being on drugs to a sugar high from eating lots of sweets.

Drop the top, pop it, let it bang

  • Casual speech / Slang: “Drop the top” and “pop the top off” are ways to talk about taking the top off of a convertible car. “Bang” here could refer to playing loud music in the car. These expressions probably have other meanings too that are a little more provocative, so I’ll leave it at that.

For this life, I cannot change

Hidden Hills, deep off in the main

M&M’s, sweet like candy cane

Drop the top, pop it, let it bang

Drop the top, play hide and seek

  • Games: “Hide and seek” is a kids game where one person has to search for other people who are hiding.
  • Figurative speech: He doesn’t literally want to play hide and seek though. This could mean going to look for something or someone, or trying to run away or hide from someone. Doing things discreetly.

Jump inside, jump straight to the league

  • Figurative speech / Slang: Going to “the league” generally refers to young athletes who skip college and go directly into the professional league. He could be referring to someone joining his “team” or his crew. Come play with the big boys. This mixes in with a popular term among some black men to call each other “hitters,” like a baseball player that hits a ball. That’s not what it means, that’s just the relation to being on the team or in the league.

Take a sip, feel just how I be (It’s lit)

  • Grammar: *”Feel just how I am …”
  • Slang / Informal speech: Saying “how I be” refers to how the person lives, how they act on a regular basis, their style. This is very informal, by the way. Saying something is “lit” means that it’s fun, it’s cool, something good will come of it. It’s also one of Travis’s popular sayings.

On Freeway, but no, ain’t nothin’ free (Straight up)

  • Grammar: *”On the freeway, but no, nothing is free …”
  • Slang: Saying “straight up” like this is the same as “for real,” as if to reiterate that the person really means what they say.

Bend laws, bend lanes (Skrrt, skrrt)

  • Expressions: To “bend the law” means to break it basically, to go against the law. “Bending lanes” is driving quickly along turns on street lanes. Hence, skrrt skrrt.

Been bustin’ bills, but still, ain’t nothin’ change

  • Grammar: *”I’ve been busting bills, but still, nothing has changed …”
  • Slang: By “busting bills” he means he’s been spending a lot of money. Still, he makes a ton of money, so his financial situation isn’t affected by this.

You in the mob soon as you rock the chain

  • Grammar: *”You’re in the mob as soon as you rock the chain …”
  • Slang: The “mob” here refers to his crew again. The same goes for “team, squad, gang,” etc. To “rock” in this case means to wear something proudly, especially a certain brand.

She caught the waves, just thumbin’ through my braids (Alright)

person with twisty braids in their head
Some braids for you – Gift Habeshaw
  • Slang / Expressions: To “catch the wave” here means to get high (on drugs) and feel some wavy vibes. To “thumb” through something means to run one’s fingers through it as if to study it, like thumbing a book.
  • Culture / Style: He plays on the idea of waves as a hairstyle since “waves” have been a popular hairstyle for black men for a while.

Heatin’ up, baby, I’m just heatin’ up (It’s lit)

  • Expressions: “Heating up” figuratively means that something is getting started, it’s just beginning. A similar expression is “warming up.”

Need your love, not a need, it is a must

Feelin’ stuck, you know how to keep me up

  • Expressions / Dual meanings: “Keep me up” here means this person keeps him feeling well, positive, and in good spirits. It also has a more provocative meaning, though.

Icy love, icy like a hockey puck (Alright)

a hockey player hitting a puck into a goal, related to a line from Travis Scott's Butterfly Effect song
this hockey puck is icy – Samantha Gades
  • Slang: “Icy” here has a couple of meanings. It can be really cool, chill, relaxed, good-looking, and involving lots of “ice” or diamonds and jewels.

For this life, I cannot change

Hidden Hills, deep off in the main

M&M’s, sweet like candy cane

Drop the top, pop it, let it bang

For this life, I cannot change

Hidden Hills, deep off in the main

M&M’s, sweet like candy cane

Drop the top, pop it, let it bang

All the ones, all the chains piled on the mantle

All the dawgs, all the dawgs low creep right behind me in the Phantom (It’s lit)

front of a rolls royce phantom, related to a lyric from Travis Scott song Butterfly Effect
a scary Phantom – Taras Chernus
  • Slang: “Dawgs” is the same as a guy or a friend. To “creep” in this scenario means to move slowly and watchfully without trying to be noticed. In a car, it sounds like it means driving with the car low to the ground.
  • Regular speech: Saying “right” with a direction just adds emphasis to how close the subject is. “Right next to, right beside, right above, right there.”
  • Cars / Culture: A Phantom is a popular expensive car often referenced in rap / trap music.

Yeah, never go, never go dip on the set, stayed Santana

  • Informal speech / Grammar: *”I stayed like Santana …”
  • Slang: To “dip” in this case means to disappear or abandon something. The “set” is a person’s original “hood,” group or place that they most represent. So, Travis didn’t abandon his origins, in simpler terms.
  • Pop Culture References: He’s probably referencing Juelz Santana who was a part of a rap group called Dipset or the Diplomats.

Yeah, run it back, turn the lights on when I hit up Green Lantern (It’s lit, alright)

  • Expressions / Slang: To “run it back” means to do something again like repeat a song or phrase, or to go back to a place. To “hit up” a place means to visit it or go to it.
  • Personal meaning / Location: He could be talking about a bar in San Antonio called the Green Lantern, since Travis is from Texas and I’ve heard he went to this place.

Yeah, fly the broads, fly the dawgs down to Atlanta

  • Slang: “Broads” is another term for young women. It’s an older term that can be seen as disrespectful to some women.

Yeah, in the cut in Medusa, lay low, yeah, I might be

  • Slang / Expressions: “In the cut” here means that he is in a place, probably a really nice place. It’s one of those non-specific slangs that could be a number of other things too. To “lay low” or “lie low” means to take it easy, relax, not do much work, enjoy one’s time.
  • Life references / Dual meanings: Medusa could be referring to the logo on Versace brand clothing, or a popular restaurant in Atlanta.

Yeah, roll up, help me calm down when I’m movin’ high speed

  • Slang: “Roll up” here refers to rolling up a joint (of cannabis). It could also refer to rolling his window up to feel stronger effects from the weed since we assume he is in a car.

Yeah, if I send one, need to text back ’cause you know what I need (Straight up)

  • Grammar: *”You need to text back because you know what I need …”
  • Deeper meaning: We can only imagine what he might need from this person he’s texting.

Oh, please, oh, me, oh, my

  • Expressions: “Oh me, oh my” is an old-fashioned expression that sounds like a kids song. “Oh my” is a way to show shock or surprise. It’s short for “Oh my God / goodness / word.” Also, saying “Oh, please!” like this can be like telling someone to stop because they are lying or saying something outrageous. “You wrestled a lion? Oh, please!” Of course, it can also be like saying “Please, stop.”

We been movin’, we been movin’ for some time (Alright)

  • Grammar: *”We have / we’ve been moving …”
  • Expressions: “Moving” here refers to making moves, or doing things to make money and have success.

Flexin’, flexin’, try to exercise

a guy flexing with his shirt off in the gym and curling weights, relating to a line a flexing in a travis scott song
Flexing those muscles, brah – Alora Griffiths
  • Slang: “Flex” in this context means to show off, present what you have to everyone else, usually in a way that is misleading. Of course, it relates to flexing a muscle, showing your strength, proving that you have been exercising a lot.

Exercise, exercise, exercise

Then it repeats.

“Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare)” by Kid Cudi – Lyrics for English Students

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Do you want to know the lyrics to “Day ‘N’ Nite” by Kid Cudi? Great, you’re in the right place! The song was featured on his 2008 album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, but was also released on a previous mixtape and single. This page is geared toward explaining to English learners some of the expressions, idioms, slang, and cultural points in the song that most native English speakers probably know already.

I suggest reading the song lyrics and explanations first. Then listen to the song with the lyrics to check for comprehension. If you know most of these explanations, then cool. Your language skills are on point! Ready?

Also Listen: Day ‘N’ Nite Remix (Crookers)

Read: for the lyrics without my explanations, Genius

Read more: Lyrics “Explained”

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Lyrics & Explanations

Day and night

  • Informal Writing: Just a note about the spelling; in the song’s title, “N” is the same as “and” but a popular way to spell it in informal titles or writing. “Nite” is the same as “night” but also an informal alternative spelling. This happens a lot when texting for words that don’t spell like they sound. Ex: Tho (Though), Rite (Right), U (You), 4 (For)

I toss and turn, I keep stressing my mind, mind

  • Expressions: “Tossing and turning” is another way to say that you can’t sleep. It’s a very common expression.

I look for peace, but see, I don’t attain

What I need for keeps, this silly game we play, play

  • Expressions: “For keeps” means something you want to keep or hold on to. It usually means you will win the object you want after playing some game. “Let’s race. Whoever wins gets a new car.” “Are we playing for keeps?”

Now look at this

Madness the magnet keeps attracting me, me

I try to run, but see, I’m not that fast

I think I’m first but surely finish last, last

  • Culture/Literature: This line is reminiscent of a popular fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The two animals race and the hare becomes cocky thinking he will easily beat the tortoise, but the tortoise ends up winning after slowly but steadily staying on track. Maybe Cudi assumes he’s going to win like the hare did, but he gets beat in the end.

‘Cause day and night

  • Informal Speech: *Because day and night …

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

  • Slang: A “stoner” is someone who gets high on drugs, especially cannabis. Similarly, getting “stoned” means getting high on cannabis.

Read more: Stoner

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

  • Other Vocabulary: You might have picked this one up, but a “loner” is someone who spends most of their time alone. They don’t interact much with other people.

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Hold the phone

  • Expressions/Dual Meaning: This one’s pretty obvious, but it can also mean to “wait” in general. This is similar to other expressions like “Hold on,” “Hold up,” and “Hold it.” These all mean to wait. Even though “hold the phone” sounds pretty specific, there are other phrases like this that mean to wait. Ex: “Hold the front door,” and “Hold your horses.” These are a little more silly and informal, though.

The lonely stoner, Mr. Solo Dolo

  • Popular Vocabulary: “Solo” means solitary or alone. I think we got it from Spanish but it’s pretty common to say that you are “solo” or doing something “solo.”
  • Informal/Unusual Expressions: “Dolo” I think is the same as solo. I haven’t heard this expression much, but I guess “solo-dolo” means being alone but feeling relaxed or okay about it.
  • Figurative Speech: Saying “Mr.” before some kind of quality means that the person is full of that quality, as if they were the owner of it. “Okay, Mr. Bossy, you don’t have to order people around all the time.”

He’s on the move, can’t seem to shake the shade

  • Idiom: Being “on the move” is to be active in making plans or moving from place to place.
  • Slang: To “shake” in this sense means to avoid or escape something, like to shake off. “The cops are behind us. I can’t shake them.” Shade here has the sense of something ominous or sad. In slang, “shade” can also be general disrespect or dislike that comes from people who don’t like you. A similar concept is “hating on” someone.

Within his dreams he sees the life he made, made

  • Slang/Possible Dual Meaning: The repeating of “made” here reminds me of another expression. Saying that someone is “made” or they “have it made” is like saying they have everything they dreamed of, they have all the success they could want. They’re living the good life. They “have it made.”

The pain is deep

A silent sleeper, you won’t hear a peep, peep

  • Other Vocabulary: “Peep” is any very small sound. It’s usually said in phrases like “won’t hear a peep” or “don’t make a peep.”

The girl he wants don’t seem to want him too

  • Grammar/Informal Speech: *The girl he wants doesn’t seem to want him either … The way he says it sounds better in this case, though.

It seems the feelings that she had are through, through

  • Common Speech: When something is “through,” it means it is done or over. It has ended.

‘Cause day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Slow mo’

  • Slang/Casual Expression: “Slow mo” means slow motion. Here, he says it probably to mean slow down or wait.

When the tempo slows up and creates that new, new

  • Foreign/Musical Term: When used in English, “tempo” specifically has to do with the speed of a rhythm, like in music. It has almost become synonymous with speed. I believe it comes from Italian.
  • Slang/Informal Expression: To “slow up” is the same as to slow down or go slower, interestingly enough. It is just another cool way to express this idea. “New new” is a fun concept. It basically means something that is new or hasn’t been experienced before, like an emerging trend. It’s like saying “new thing” but the focus is on the impact of that new thing as opposed to the new thing itself. “You still wear the old brands, but I’ve got that new new. You want to see some?”

Read more: New new

He seems alive though he is feeling blue

  • Slang/Idiom: We probably all know this one, but feeling “blue” is feeling sad.

The sun is shining, man he’s super cool, cool

  • Expressions: “Man” here is just an exclamation, it doesn’t mean anything really.
  • Informal Speech: The way he pronounces “cool” is a very common way to say it in some accents. It also rhymes a lot better with blue.

The lonely nights

They fade away, he slips into his white Nikes

  • Casual Expression: To “slip into” something means to wear it or put it on. “I’m going to slip into a nice dress.”
  • Informal/Alternative Speech: The way he pronounces Nikes (referring to shoes) is an informal way that only certain communities say, though it can also just be an alternative or sarcastic way of pronouncing it. It also rhymes better with nights.

He smokes a clip and then he’s on the way

  • Slang: Smoking a “clip” is smoking the leftovers of a blunt of cannabis.
  • Idiom/Expressions: To be “on the way” means to be arriving somewhere or going somewhere specific.

To free his mind in search of, to free his mind in search of

To free his mind in search of

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone through the day and night

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night, at, at, at night

Day and night

The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night

He’s all alone, some things will never change

The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night

At, at, at night, night

At, at, at night, night

Na-na-na-na-na-na, Kid Cudi

Cleveland status, grind all day

  • Casual Expressions: Adding “status” after something like a quality or a place means that person is acting like that quality or representing that place. “He’s on Brooklyn status with his Nets jersey and his old Brooklyn Dodger hat.”
  • Slang: To “grind” in this case means to work hard and put in an effort. A similar concept is to be “on your grind.”

Read more: Grind

Then it repeats …

**I hope you enjoyed reading the lyrics to “Day ‘N’ Nite.” Did you understand these pretty well? What part of the lyrics do you still have trouble with? Tell us what your favorite lines are, or what other songs you like by Kid Cudi. You can contact me personally at tietewaller@gmail.com or to collaborate. Read more posts like this one at Lyrics “Explained.” Thank you for coming! Peace.

“Ojuelegba (Remix)” by Wizkid feat. Drake, Skepta – lyrics for English students

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A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Flag of England
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In this post, we will look at song lyrics from Nigerian artist Wizkid, along with rappers Drake and Skepta. The song is the remix of the original “Ojuelegba” from Wizkid’s Ayo album, which you can listen to here. This post is also a continuation of the series where we analyze English-language song lyrics for learners, called Lyrics “Explained”. I’ve mostly been covering songs from the U.S., Canada, or Britain, so this is a nice change-up (at least for one of the singers). It’s a good reminder that English is spoken throughout the world, and places like Nigeria make up an important side of English-language culture too. If you want to read “Ojuelegba (Remix)” lyrics without my explanations, you can find them here. I also got some help with translations since part of the song is in the Yoruba language. You can read more on Kilonso. Okay, here we go.

Image of a busy street in Ojuelegba suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, namesake and subject of the song Ojuelegba by Wizkid
Ojuelegba, Nigeria – By Omoeko Media

Song Lyrics (Wizkid, Drake, Skepta)

Ni Ojuelegba o, my people dey there

  • Other language: In the Yoruba language, “In Ojuelegba.” Ojuelegba is a busy suburb of Lagos, by the way.
  • Regional accent: Then in regional English dialect: “My people are there.”

My people suffer, dem dey pray for blessing eh

  • Regional speech: *”They all pray for blessings.”

Ni ojuelegba o, my people dey there

Dem dey pray for blessing, for better living eh eh

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain, yeah

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I just can’t explain

I can’t explain, no, no, yeah

Look, it’s gon’ be a long long time ‘fore we stop

  • Informal speech: *It’s going to be a long, long time before…

Boy better know, they better know who make the scene pop

  • Grammar: *Who makes the scene…
  • Slang: “Pop” here has the meaning of making something more lively, more exciting, like a party. “That place was popping!”

All I ever needed was a chance to get the team hot

  • Slang: “Hot” here can mean successful, famous, or anything similar to that. He refers to his group of friends and people working with him as his team.

Only thing I fear is a headshot or a screenshot

  • Grammar: *The only thing I fear…
  • Other vocabulary: A “headshot” is a gunshot to the head. A “screenshot” is a picture you take of your own phone’s screen. Basically, he fears either getting killed or someone finding out what’s on his phone. Haha.

Pree me, dem a pree me

  • Regional speech: “Pree” I think comes from Jamaica. It means to pay close attention to something. With a Jamaican patois accent, he’s saying that people are paying close attention to him, like the paparazzi or his fans.
  • Double meanings: It also sounds like “premie/premy,” an informal way to refer to people that were born prematurely. I don’t know if that was intended, but it could be an interesting way for him to compare these people to babies.

You know they only call me when they need me

I never go anywhere, they never see me

I’m the type to take it easy, take it easy

  • Idioms: “Take it easy” means to do things slowly and calmly, in a relaxed manner. “-How have you been? -Oh, I’ve been taking it easy.”

I took girls in the very first text I sent

I don’t beg no lovers, I don’t beg no friends

  • Grammar: Double negatives! *I don’t beg any…

If you wanna link, we can link right now

  • Slang: To “link” or “link up” is to get together with someone or to meet someone so you can spend time with them.

Skeppy, Wiz and Drake, it’s a ting right now

  • Names: Those are the names of the artists participating in this song.
  • Slang/Regional speech: Again with a Caribbean/African accent, Drake says “it’s a thing.” This means that they made something happen together, they accomplished something. “Thing” can have lots of weird underlying meanings depending on the situation and the speaker.

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain eh yeah

When I was in school, being African was a diss

  • Slang: A “diss” or “dis” is something used to tease or make someone feel bad. It comes from the word “disrespect,” but has to do more with teasing or saying disrespectful things toward another.

Sounds like you need help saying my surname, Miss

  • Society: Having a foreign last name, Skepta’s teachers had a hard time pronouncing it when he was in school. This is a common occurrence for people who have foreign surnames.

Tried to communicate

But every day is like another episode of Everybody Hates Chris

  • Society/Culture: From Chris Rock’s TV show. Throughout the show, Chris suffers from racism for being the only black kid at his school.
Photo of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., expressing from Ojuelegba Remix lyrics by Wizkid, Drake & Skepta
Floyd Mayweather getting ready to fight – By rcelis

Ever since mum said, “Son you are a king

  • Culture/Society: This reminds me of “The Lion King” where young Simba is told that one day he will be king. I guess the idea is ever since he was a boy, a little kid.

I feel like Floyd when I’m stepping into the ring

  • Culture: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a famous boxer.

Just spoke to the boy, said he’s flying in with a ting

  • Grammar: *I just spoke…
  • Slang/Informal speech: By “the boy,” he probably is talking about Drake. Saying the “ting” again, it could mean any kind of cool thing that he’s bringing. It’s something important.

We’re touching the road to celebrate another win, we’re going in

  • Idiom/Figurative speech: “Touching the road” means to go on a trip. It could be literally on the road, like in a car/bus. It could also be just going on any trip. To “go in” can mean a lot of things. Here it means to really enjoy something, put in your biggest effort, to do something very well.

Why am I repping these ends? Man I don’t know

  • Slang: To “rep” is to represent something, usually a neighborhood or place of origin. “Ends” I believe is London slang meaning neighborhood.

The government played roulette with my postcode

  • Figurative speech: “Playing roulette” here gives the idea of the government randomly choosing where he and his family will live. It appears that in London’s project housing system, that has been a pretty common practice. Also, Skepta is from Tottenham, a rough neighborhood in London.

All I know is it’s where my people dem are suffering

  • Regional speech: “Dem” here doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase. It means “they” or “them.” It’s sort of a Caribbean/African style of talking.

I seen it before, narrate the story as it unfolds

  • Grammar: *I’ve seen it before…

Dad certified the settings and my mum knows

My mind full of more bullets than your gun holds

  • Figurative speech: He’s seen or heard lots of violence, gun shots.

Now I got the peng tings in the front row

  • Slang: “Peng” is British slang for beautiful, attractive, or appealing. “Tings” here probably refers to women, so he has pretty women at his shows.

Saying, “Skeppy come home, baby come home!”

  • Other info: “Come home” might be telling Skepta he’s welcome to come back to his ancestral homeland, Africa.

Yeah, I love the sun but I respect the rain

  • Figurative speech/Double meaning: The sun usually is a reference for good days, while the rain symbolizes hard times. This is especially common in music or literature. It also could be a reference to religion. He can love the Son (Jesus Christ) but respects his Reign (His power and authority). I don’t know if Skepta is religious or Christian, but it could be a double meaning either way.

Look forward to good times, can’t forget the pain

  • Idiom/Phrasal verb: To “look forward to” something is to be excited for it to happen. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

I was the kid in school with the ten-pound shoes

Black pepper grains, representing the line about pepper grains relating to hair in the lyrics of Ojuelegba Remix by Wizkid
Grains of black pepper for comparison – by Anas Alhajj
  • Society: “Pounds” referring to British currency. These are cheap shoes, probably in bad quality.

White socks, jack-ups and the pepper grains

  • Slang: “Jack-ups” refers to pants that are too small/short. “Pepper grains” refers to nappy hair or hair that is curly and kinky. It isn’t combed or brushed and has knots in it, so it looks like grains of black pepper.

Said they’re gonna respect me for my ambition

  • Grammar: *I said they’re going to …

Rest in peace my n***** that are missing

  • Informal/Figurative speech: “Missing” in this case really means dead.

I had to tell my story cuz they’d rather show you

Black kids with flies on their faces on the television

  • Society: Referring to the sad way Africans or black people are often portrayed on TV.

Eh e kira fun mummy mi o

  • Other language: More Yoruba; “Thanks for my mom”

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

  • “She prays every day”

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

  • “I’m enjoying my life, they are complaining”

Ojojumo owo n wole wa

  • “Every day, money is coming in”

E kira fun mummy mi o

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

Won ni won ni won soro ju

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And the lyrics repeat.

Last Thoughts on Ojuelegba

Alright, we’ve got Nigeria on the list! This song has an amazing rhythm and is such a relaxing yet upbeat song at the same time. I recommend you listen to it if you haven’t yet. Throughout the lyrics, we join the struggles of growing up in the ghetto or in rough neighborhoods. There is some reflection of hard times, but also a celebration for how much better things are now. These difficulties have made these singers who they are today, and they’re proud of it. Nigeria does have a lot of English speakers, but the country is multi-ethnic and -linguistic. It’s great that we get to see some Yoruba and be more multicultural. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of English-speaking countries, anyway!

What do you think? Did you like this song? Can you relate to its message? And what about you who are from Nigeria or have visited Lagos. What can you tell us about it? Leave a comment below to share. Otherwise take care, everyone!

“Dani California” lyrics by Red Hot Chili Peppers – for English students

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From a young girl in a police family to a final showdown in the Badlands, there’s a lot of action in this song. We”ll be going over “Dani California” lyrics by Red Hot Chili Peppers here with explanations, especially for you English students out there. Learn some new idioms, slang, and grammar points. Learn a little about society too. And don’t forget to listen to the song to check your understanding! I checked the lyrics on Genius if you want a reference. After you read, make sure to find other song lyrics explanations here. Alright, here we go:

Song Lyrics

Gettin’ born in the state of Mississippi

  • Grammar: *Being born…
  • Society: He could be using the improper “getting born” to present the uneducated origins of Dani from Mississippi.

Poppa was a copper and her momma was a hippie

  • Slang: “Copper” is an informal word for a cop or police officer.
A chain gang of African American prisoners in the old South of the USA as sung in the lyrics of Dani California song
Classic chain gang – By Detroit Publishing Co.

In Alabama, she would swing a hammer

  • Society: “Swinging a hammer” probably refers to a chain gang. This is a form of punishment in prisons that has been outlawed for a while. Prisoners had to do unpaid labor like build and construct things, often in the form of mining or clearing space for roads and train rails. Working in a mine or with heavy tools creates the idea of swinging a hammer,

Price you gotta pay when you break the panorama

  • Grammar: *It’s the price you have to pay…
  • Figurative Speech: “Breaking the panorama” is like going against what everyone else is doing, or not fitting in. In Dani’s case, she is probably breaking the laws established in her community.

She never knew that there was anything more than poor

  • Society: Just a note; the way he pronounces “poor” like “po” is an informal but common way for certain American communities to pronounce it. This is usually associated with poor, black, or Southern speakers.

What in the world, what does your company take me for?

  • Daily speech: By “company” here, he means the people you spend time with, not a real enterprise or business. Asking “What do you take me for?” is another way of saying “Who do you think I am?” or “You are wrong about me!” Also, saying “What in the world?” is a simple way to show that you are shocked or confused by something. You can also use it to ask a question. “What in the world is that thing? Oh, it looks like a termite.”

Black bandana, sweet Louisiana

  • Culture/Society: The “black bandana” is usually a symbol of criminal activity. This is because traditionally when someone would rob a place, they would wear a bandana to cover their face.

Robbin’ on a bank in the state of Indiana

  • Grammar: *Robbing a bank …
  • Culture: Again, using informal grammar on purpose to relate to a specific class or region of the U.S. In these communities, it can be common for people to say a verb with “on.” “He was kissing on her, loving all on the poor girl. So she didn’t like that and slapped all on his face.”

She’s a runner, rebel and a stunner

  • Figurative/Informal speech: “Runner” in the sense of a fugitive. Also, she lives a fast-paced lifestyle. I can’t tell exactly if he sings “stunner” or “stunter,” but either way he is saying that Dani is confident and likes to show off her skills. She can stun others with her abilities but can make herself look amazing doing it.

On her merry way sayin’, “Baby, what you gonna—?

  • Other details: “Merry” of course means happy or cheerful. Her saying “Baby, what you gonna–?” can be like her teasing or playing with her victims. She’s also a quick shooter, killing them before they can even answer her question.
Model of a Colt Forty-five pistol gun sung in the lyrics of Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers M1911A1.png
By M62 – This file was derived from:  M1911 A1 pistol.jpg,

Lookin’ down the barrel of a hot metal .45

  • Informal speech: “A metal .45” probably refers to a Colt .45, a type of gun.

Just another way to survive

California, rest in peace

  • Special occasion: “Rest in peace” (R.I.P.) is what we say when someone has died.

Simultaneous release

  • Figurative speech: This line could be talking about the “release” of a gunshot that “releases” Dani’s soul. It also sounds like it could have a sensual meaning, but we’ll stick to the violent one, hehe.

California, show your teeth

  • Figurative speech: Saying “show your teeth” is another way of making people afraid of you. Think of how wolves or lions show their teeth to try and intimidate others. It could also mean showing us who you really are.

She’s my priestess, I’m your priest, yeah, yeah

  • Figurative speech: This is like saying she told him, so now he is telling us. She taught him, now he will teach us.

She’s a lover, baby and a fighter

  • Figurative speech: “Baby” here meaning someone sweet, kind, loving, and also a bit innocent.

Shoulda seen her comin’ when it got a little brighter

  • Grammar: *I should have seen …
  • Figurative speech: “Get brighter” here refers to something becoming more clear or evident. It’s like the phrase “come to light,” which has this same meaning.

With a name like Dani California

Day was gonna come when I was gonna mourn ya

  • Deeper meaning: He says this like he knew the day was going to come.
  • Informal speech: “Ya” in this case is an informal way of pronouncing you.

A little loaded, she was stealin’ another breath

  • Slang: “Loaded” means drunk. It could also have a double meaning, referring to her loaded gun (gun with bullets in it).
  • Figurative speech: “Stealing a breath” is like the phrase “Cheating death.” This means living dangerously, encountering seemingly fatal situations and still making it out alive.

I love my baby to death

  • Figurative speech: “Loving something to death” is actually a pretty common term in English. It usually just means that you love someone or something a lot. Here, he uses the “to death” part literally, so it sounds a bit more morbid.

California, rest in peace

  • Other details: Now we see that California is Dani’s last name, so we know he’s talking about a woman, not the state.

Simultaneous release

California, show your teeth

She’s my priestess, I’m your priest, yeah, yeah

Who knew the other side of you?

Who knew what others died to prove?

Too true to say goodbye to you

Too true to say, say, say

Push the fader, gifted animator

  • Informal speech: To push the “fader” is referring to the fade feature where DJ’s or music producers make a song fade at the end.
  • Figurative speech: Referring to the “gifted animator,” this could be a reference to the Creator, the designer of the universe, putting an end to Dani’s life as if it were a song. This relates the fading feature in music to the fading away of a person’s life.

One for the now and eleven for the later

  • Unusual format: This might be a reference to the bullets in a gun. There was one shot, and eleven were saved for later.

Never made it up to Minnesota

  • Informal speech: To “make it” somewhere is the same as getting there or arriving there. The same is used for non-physical places. “She never made it to 21 (she died before turning 21).”

North Dakota man was a gunnin’ for the quota

  • Other details: The “quota” means a share or earnings from something.
  • Slang/Informal speech: This North Dakota man was “gunning,” or using his gun, to get a piece of the reward, apparently for stopping Dani. Adding “a” before a verb is also a stereotypical way that rural or Southern people are seen to talk. It has no meaning but is used to add color to speech. “He was a-going and a-going until he got tired. Then his feet start a-hurting.”
An example of the Badlands, geography of western North America from Pexels, sung in the lyrics of Dani California
An example of Badlands – Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Down in the Badlands, she was savin’ the best for last

  • Geography: The “Badlands” is a geographical feature of several U.S. states, and other parts of the world. It is characterized by desert or rugged rocky landscapes where few animals live. It’s usually dry and looks like a very tough place to live.
  • Figurative speech: The rock formations look like a spectacular arena or something, so she put on a final show.

It only hurts when I laugh

  • Figurative speech: He laughs when he remembers the good times with Dani, which also hurts because she is not around anymore.

Gone too fast

. Then they repeat.

Final Thoughts

The story of Dani California is a classic bandit highway criminal tale. We have a girl with humble beginnings in the South who’s a rebel for her times. She grows up, gets into more and more trouble, all until she eventually gets taken down. The lyrics add in a lot of colloquial or figurative phrases to better paint the picture of where Dani California is from. There are several bits of imagery to present her wild lifestyle and we see her final demise at the end. The singer loves this woman, has respect for her, but that couldn’t save her. After all, we see that a life of crime really doesn’t pay, though it can bring us fun and exciting memories.

Thanks for reading/listening and I hope you enjoyed the post! Check out some related posts if you want, and follow to be notified of new posts to your email. Thanks and have a good one!

“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

“Tighten Up” [The Black Keys] – lyrics for English students

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Thanks for coming! Practice your English skills by reading and listening to the song lyrics. You can find more songs here on the website, too.

I wanted love, I needed love

Most of all, most of all

Someone said true love was dead

And I’m bound to fall, bound to fall for you

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Oh, what can I do? Yeah

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Take my badge but my heart remains

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Lovin’ you, baby child

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Tighten up on your reins

You are runnin’ wild, runnin’ wild, it’s true

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Sick for days in so many ways

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I’m achin’ now, I’m achin’ now

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It’s times like these I need relief

Please show me how, oh show me how to get right

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Yeah, it’s out of sight

When I was young and movin’ fast

Nothin’ slowed me down, oh, slowed me down

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Now I let the others pass, I’ve come around

Oh come around, ’cause I’ve found

Livin’ just to keep goin’

Goin’ just to be sane

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All the while not knowin’

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It’s such a shame

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I don’t need to get steady

I know just how I feel

I’m tellin’ you to be ready

My dear

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  • To be “bound to” do something means that it is meant to happen or destined to happen. In other words, it is guaranteed. “If you jump off of bridges, you are bound to get hurt.” In this lyric, “falling” refers to falling in love. Sometimes people don’t say the “in love” part but it means the same thing.
  • “Badge” here can mean respect or honor since people who wear badges are generally respected and honored people. She took his honor but he still loves her (my heart remains).
  • Calling her “baby child” is a way to sound like he is in control or has power in the relationship. It also sounds like he feels pity for her because some people say this when they feel sorry for another person. Still, it’s a loving term.
  • To “tighten up” is to hold onto something tighter or more firmly. “Reins” are the equipment used to steer a horse or other large animal. That’s where we get the word “reindeer”. “Tightening up the reins” can be thought of as getting a strong grip on your life, controlling yourself more, behaving more appropriately.
  • This shows how “sick” can be a state of feeling terribly both physically and emotionally.
  • Of course, to “ache” is pretty much the same as to hurt. That’s why we say headache, back ache, etc.
  • *It is in times like these…
  • To “get right” is to feel better or live life better. When someone wants to have a more fulfilling and successful life, they want to get right.
  • “Out of sight” is more of an old-fashioned slang. It was more popular in the ’70s but obviously, people love the ’70s and so it’s still popular among some groups of people. It means that something is amazing, it’s so good that you can’t see it anymore, out of sight.
  • To “come around” usually means to come over, like to someone’s house. “What time are you coming over?” In this song, though, he uses a figurative meaning. “Come around” also means to come to your senses, or to realize that you were doing something wrong. You think more clearly now. “Finally, you stopped listening to that terrible rock band. I knew you would come around.”
  • “All the while” means the whole time. It’s especially used in situations when someone doesn’t know about something, but they usually find out later. “The kids were crying to buy ice cream after school when, all the while, there was already ice cream at home.”
  • Such a” before a descriptive noun just adds emphasis, meaning it is a lot or in a big way. “He’s such a good guy (a really good guy).”
  • “Steady” normally means to be stable or in control, both physically and emotionally. To “get steady” then means to become stable or to gain control of himself/his emotions.

The song lyrics are quite short but there’s a lot of story in them. We have an old love seemingly from childhood, and a guy who insists on love when everyone else doubts him. It seems like for good reason since the love interest has disrespected him and hurt him. Still, like so many of us, he insists on keeping the relationship going, keeping hope alive, and denying he needs any help at all. I like the idea of these lyrics because he hasn’t yet resolved his relationship issues and he’s very much still trying to figure out what he’s doing, all while being a little bit in denial. Either way he seems to have a strong mindset about it and is warning us to “be ready” for when he is back on top of things. This story is not over yet!

Thanks for reading. Here are some things to think about and some questions to answer in the comments if you want to practice your English writing skills. I will give feedback on any comments or answers guys!

Questions

  1. Do you know someone who should “tighten up” their reins and behave a little better?
  2. Why do you think someone might tell you “love is dead?” Do you agree with this statement?
  3. Do you like The Black Keys? What other songs do you like by them?
  4. Why do you think they’re called “the black keys”, anyway?

“Rumour Has It” [Adele] – lyrics for English students

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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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New post with new lyrics! This time we’ll look at the song “Rumour Has It” by Adele from her album 21. Check these lyrics for your English understanding and learn a bit more about informal terms or cultural points. I’ve taken notes on significantly incorrect grammar or words, and explained more about informal or culture-specific terms. As always I put a short explanation of what I think the song is about, if you’re interested. I’ll also leave the video here on top if you want to listen at the same time. Happy reading!

She, she ain’t real

  • *she isn’t real…

She ain’t gon’ be able to love you like I will

  • “she won’t be able…” also, “she isn’t going to be able…”

She is a stranger

You and I have history, or don’t you remember?

  • To “have history” with someone means to have some past experience with them, usually a long and complicated one. It’s often used to talk about people who were in a relationship together.

Sure, she’s got it all

But baby, is that really what you want?

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

  • “Bless your soul” is an interesting phrase. Even though it sounds kind of religious, it’s used a lot to refer to someone who is clueless or making some kind of mistake. It can be for innocent mistakes, like when you’re talking to a child, or for bigger mistakes like an adult would make. A similar phrase is “bless your heart” which is more common in the South of the U.S. “I’d like to order a file mignon.” “Oh, bless his heart. He doesn’t know we don’t serve that here.” Also, having your “head in the clouds” means to be daydreaming, thinking of impossible or useless ideas, or thinking about faraway places. It can be either a negative or positive thing.

She made a fool out of you and, boy, she’s bringin’ you down

  • She’s “bringing him down,” meaning she is making him feel worse or making his life worse. “Make a fool out of someone” is a good phrase too, meaning to make someone else look foolish or silly.

She made your heart melt, but you’re cold to the core

  • If your “heart melts” this means that you fall in love, basically. I think this is the same in many languages, but being “cold” is being heartless, without emotion, and without care for others. So cold to the core (to the center, deep down) is super cold, as emotionally cold as possible.

Now rumour has it, she ain’t got your love anymore

  • *“she doesn’t have your love…” Saying “rumour has it” is a popular way to start talking about a rumor or gossip. It let’s the other person know that what you’ll say is some kind of gossip. The spelling here is standard British, “rumour,” while in the U.S. (or North America?) it’s spelled “rumor.”

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

She is half your age

Poor guy, this is how rumors spread, Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

But I’m guessin’ that’s the reason that you strayed

  • To “stray” means to go off or run away without warning, usually in secret. We use this word to talk about pets a lot, like a stray cat or dog.

I heard you’ve been missin’ me

You’ve been tellin’ people things you shouldn’t be

Like when we creep out when she ain’t around

  • *“when she is not around…” To “creep out” or “creep” as a verb means to go places, usually secretively under cover of the dark. It has the idea of a snake, cat, or other creature crawling around at night. To be “around” just means to be present somewhere. So he creeps out when his girlfriend isn’t around.

Haven’t you heard the rumours? (Bless your soul)

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

You made a fool out of me and, boy, you’re bringin’ me down

You made my heart melt, yet I’m cold to the core

But rumour has it, I’m the one you’re leaving her for

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

All of these words whispered in my ear

Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear

  • This isn’t really a slang term, but learners might not be familiar with it. If you “cannot bear” something, it means you can’t stand it, you can’t handle it, you can’t take it, it’s too much, etc. Yes, it is spelled the same as “bear,” the animal.

Just ’cause I said it, it don’t mean that I meant it

  • *“Just because I said, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…” To “mean” something means to be sincere about it. For example, “I said I’m sorry. I mean it.” This is different from using “mean” to talk about a meaning or definition. “Hola means Hello in Spanish.”

People say crazy things

Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it

Just ’cause you heard it

Rumour has it (Rumour)

And the lyrics repeat.

Alrighty. This is not the typical romantic song. The story that the lyrics tell is a juicy one, like a soap opera. We have Adele secretly running around with a guy, seemingly her ex. He seems to have moved on, or they sound like they broke up. Still, he is going out with her at night, probably cheating on his current girlfriend, but won’t accept Adele during the day. It sounds like the guy left Adele for a younger woman, maybe someone shallow and outwardly pretty (she’s got it all, she ain’t real), but he secretly still likes the singer of this song. They seem to have a long history and some kind of real connection. The lyrics put us in this weird space where we don’t know if she’s upset and wants to forget this guy or if she is proud that he still wants to be with her deep down. She’s obviously been affected by him, since he did make her heart melt and no one can love him like she can. It’s a different take on romantic relationships, betrayal, and secret desires. Good stuff.

Tell me, y’all, what songs do you want me to explain? I’m waiting on my first comments here and I would love to do a song that you guys are interested in. What do you say? Comment what you thought of this song. Do you love Adele? Does this sound like a relationship you’ve been in? Tell me your thoughts, or email me directly at tietewaller@gmail.com

“Carnies” [Martina Topley-Bird] – lyrics for English Students

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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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Fun and games are coming to town … and all the crying and drama that go along with them. Read the lyrics and explanations of “Carnies” song by Martina Topley-Bird, and learn some new English terms! And don’t forget to read a fuller explanation, comment, and watch the music video below–>

Ferris wheels and cotton candy

  • I’ll stick some images here in case you don’t know these.
A Ferris wheel, Photo by Amanda Cottrell on Pexels.com

The folks try to stall as the kids get antsy

  • “Folks” is another word for people in general. Usually used to talk about a certain group of people together. It can also be used to talk about one’s parents. “I’m going to visit my folks this weekend.” To “stall” is to hesitate or stop completely. In a more figurative way, it also means to distract from the main point. “Stop stalling and just tell the story!” And “antsy” means restless, like when someone can’t sit still.

They sit there complaining there’s nothing else to do

So we pick up our coats and go down to the fair

  • Just a note, “fair” as a noun usually refers to a kind of carnival with rides, games, and snacks. For example, in many places in America, we have county fairs. The biggest kinds are World’s Fairs.
Some cotton candy, Photo by Mariana Kurnyk on Pexels.com

Who knows what we’ll find when we get there?

Eyes will be streaming, faces split in two

  • “Eyes streaming” has the sense of a river or stream flowing. This probably means that kids will be crying, probably because they don’t want to leave. “Faces split in two” reminds me of the classic symbol of theater or drama with a mask that is half happy and half sad. This imagery tells how people at the fair will be a mixture of happy and sad faces.
classic comedy/tragedy masks, at Foundry Brothers

Carnies have come to town

  • “Carnies” is the same as a carnival or fair. It is more of a British slang, if I’m not mistaken, since we don’t use it as much in the U.S. Saying something “has come to town” means that it has come or arrived in your area. Whether you’re talking about a town, city, or rural area, you can always use “come to town” to talk about an event coming to your area.

If they stay, will you hang around?

  • To “hang around” just means to stay or remain somewhere. She could also say “Will you hang?” and it means the same thing. A similar phrase is “stick around.” “Will you stick around for Christmas too?”

Lately where have you gone?

  • “Lately” is such a good word! I think it could be a little confusing for English learners. It is basically the same as recently, or in recent days. “What’ve you been doing lately (in recent days)?”

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Say what you want life’s too good to be true

Jump start me after I’m through the sunroof

  • To “jump-start” something is to give it a big push, almost like you’re so excited to start or to go somewhere. The idea comes from track racing. When someone jump starts, they start running before the race even begins. A “sunroof” is the part of a car’s roof that opens up so you can see the sky. The idea is of Martina jumping out of the roof of her car.
Someone “jumping thru their sunroof”, Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Soon I’ll be home but I don’t know if you will too

Carnies have come to town

If they stay, will you hang around?

Lately where have you gone?

I’ve been waiting for so long

When will you come back?

Carnies is such a fun word. As I said above, it’s more of a British slang from my understanding, since fair or carnival are more common in the U.S. Regardless, I feel like this song really captures the mysterious, fun, and dramatic sense of being at a fair. Fun, games, candy and rides go together with whining children and stressed parents. Besides all that, Martina seems to be missing someone in her lyrics, wondering where they went and if they’ll come back. Part of her wondering might be about the fair itself and when it will come back to her town. But she also seems to be remembering specific experiences with this “mystery person” of when they used to go to carnies, maybe when they were kids. It’s a song full of magical vibes and nostalgia, for sure.

Tell me what you think! Have you ever been to a carny? Is there something from your childhood that you feel nostalgic about? Let me know if you liked this song, and if there is another song you want to see here. Just shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!

And watch the video people 🙂

“Colorado” [Kota the Friend] – lyrics for English students

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Good vibes and vacations. Here are the song lyrics along with some explanations for “Colorado” by Kota the Friend, from his Colorado album. Use the lyrics to practice your English and learn more about the culture. Also, the song has a really smooth beat, so listen to it below! Comment with suggestions for songs you want me to “explain” next. Here it is:

Bill collector knockin’ at the door

Baby momma yelling in my ear

Honestly, a lot is going on

  • This is another way to say that things are happening. “What’s going on?” “Nothing’s going on.”

Only thing is I don’t really care

  • *The only thing…

People wonder how I keep a smile

Tell ’em it’s ’cause I don’t give a f***

  • *I tell them it’s because… When you don’t give a “F,” this means that you don’t care (at all).

I’ve been in my slippers for a while

Even all my haters show me love, yeah

  • To “show love” can mean to show true romantic love like in a relationship. In other cases, it can mean to show respect, honor, or appreciation for someone. Even his haters (people that normally are against him) are now showing him respect.

I just wish ’em well though

  • To “wish someone well” is a common phrase, a good one to remember.

Hope you gettin’ money, hope you doin’ well, bro

Heard your sister love me, I’m in Colorado

  • *I heard your sister loves me…

Do not f****** at me, I been on vacation ’cause I need it badly

  • *I’ve been on vacation because… When he says “do not at me,” it reminds me of the more common phrase “Don’t come at me.” To come at someone means to criticize them, go after them in a mean way, or attack them somehow, usually with harsh words. Maybe he left out the “come”? If it is normal to say “don’t at me,” I just haven’t heard it before. It also sounds like he might be saying “do not add me” like on social media, but that doesn’t make as much sense in the context. The “F” word here just adds anger or emphasis to his statement. Also, needing something “badly” means that you really need it. “I wanted to get some ice cream so badly, but now I’m over it.”

Hotel California my escape

  • “Hotel California” is an old rock song by the Eagles. It is kind of a calm and relaxing song, at least for a rock song. His reference can be to the calm music, to a hotel (on vacation), and for California itself since California is a popular vacation spot and is known for generally good weather. Also, listen to “Hotel California” here.

P-P-Pulling up in Mexico with New York City plates, ayy

  • To “pull up” is to arrive at a place, usually in a car. “Plates” here refer to license plates on a car. Also, “ayy” is something you might hear frequently in music, especially in hip hop. It’s an expression that can be used in lots of situations usually to show excitement or that you like something.
California coast, Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

Neighbors want a photo when I visit where I stay, ayy

If you talking drama, get the f*** up out my face, ayy

  • *If you are talking… “Up” here has no real meaning. It just adds emphasis and feeling to his statement.

Dodging bad vibes like skrrt

A car “skrrt”-ing, Photo by Peter Zhurakhovsky on Unsplash
  • To “dodge” is to avoid. “Vibes,” I’m sure many of you know, are vibrations in the figurative sense. If something gives you good vibes, it makes you feel good, and the same goes for bad vibes. “Skrrt” is a sound you’ve heard a lot if you listen to recent hip hop or trap music (Migos, looking at y’all). It’s basically the sound a car’s wheels make when you drive away or turn fast. The idea in this song is that he is dodging bad vibes with a big turn, like how you might try to avoid an obstacle in the road.

Drama on my line like skrrt

  • His “line” is the group of people that message him or interact on social media. But skrrt, he’s avoiding it.

Left it in the past like skrrt

  • *I left it…

Getting to the bag like skrrt

  • To “get to the bag” means to make money since “bag” in general is a slang term for money. Also, in this sense, skrrt doesn’t mean he is avoiding something. It sounds more like he is driving in a hurry to go and make money.

Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt

Skrrt, skrrt-skrrt, skrrt

Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt

Skrrt, skrrt, skrrt, skrrt

People really think my life is perfect

Maybe ’cause I’m laughing through the worst s***

Yeah, I know the Devil is alive but

  • “The Devil is alive” is a popular phrase in the Christian community here in America. It basically means that the Devil is being active, working, and trying to make bad things happen. In a not-so-literally sense, it just means that something bad is trying to challenge us and get in our way. By acknowledging the Devil is alive, it’s like scaring away the bad thoughts or actions in some way. I feel like a lot of people also say “the Devil is a lie” without noticing any difference.

The way that I been moving got him nervous

  • *I’ve been moving has him nervous… To “get/have someone nervous” just means to make them nervous.

Mac, I hope you know you did your thing

  • Mac is referring to Mac Miller, a famous American rapper who died a few years ago due to a mixed drug and alcohol overdose. Saying someone “did their thing” is a form of admiration, meaning they did something well while being original and having fun with it. You can also wish someone to “do their thing” with the same meaning. “Man, you look like you’re having fun. Go do your thing.” It’s a type of compliment.
Miller performing in July 2017
Mac Miller, by Nicolas Völcker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get your rest ’cause, homie, you deserve it

  • “Homie” is a friend or trusted person, usually. Again, he is referencing Mac Miller and his early death. A similar phrase is “rest in peace.” To “rest” is a lighter way to refer to death, or someone being dead.

Ocean always deeper than it seem

  • *The ocean is always deeper than it seems…

And people only looking at the surface

  • *And people are only looking… The idea is like an iceberg. There’s much more under the surface.

Pa-paparazzi caught me hopping out my bag, ayy

  • I’m not sure if paparazzi is a common word in other languages. They are those reporters who go after and take photos of famous people. To “catch” here means to find someone. It usually means finding someone doing something that is not right or something the person is trying to hide. “I caught momma kissing Santa Claus” is a prime example. “Bag” in this lyric is a little confusing to me. In slang, it usually means money, goals, or a style. In this case, I can’t really tell. Is he hopping out of his money? Maybe he’s hopping out of his car, since “hop in/out” is usually used when talking about cars. Maybe there’s another meaning to “bag” that I don’t know about.

Hopping in the Uber on my way to get the bag, ayy

Used to drink a bottle every day ’cause I was sad, ayy

I hit up my dad like I hope that we could patch things

  • To “hit someone up” is to send them a message, like on your cell phone. To “patch” or “patch up” mean to fix something, usually a situation or relationship that has gone bad.

Women could not put me in my feelings, n****, f*** that

  • To be “put in your feelings” means to feel emotional or sensitive about something. It’s common to talk about this after a breakup or after being put down verbally by someone else. “F that” is a common curse to say that you don’t like something or don’t accept something.

If she do not want the realest n****, then she dumb wack

  • *If she does not want the most real n****, then she’s… I’m not sure that “realest” is a real word, but it sure is used a lot. It’s a popular term, especially used in the black community, and often referencing hip hop. To be “the realest” means to be someone who tells things truthfully, is strong, really good at what you do, and just all-around successful and confident. It’s basically a compliment that covers all good qualities. When a person or thing is “wack” it means you don’t like it or you think it’s stupid. “Turn this song off, I don’t like it. It’s wack.” “Dumb” here doesn’t mean stupid or unintelligent, though. It is like saying really or super. “If she doesn’t like me, then she’s super wack.” It can be positive too. “Kevin Hart is dumb funny! You should watch his standup.”

I don’t ever trip, but I bet that you would love that

  • To “trip” means to act out of character, act in a weird way, or be upset for no reason. “Why are you tripping, man? Calm down.” It can also mean to have weird experiences like hallucinations while high on drugs, but that’s in other situations.

I don’t ever trip, but I bet that you would love that

Then the lyrics repeat.

Oh, “Colorado.” It’s funny that Colorado isn’t even mentioned but once, I think, in the entire song. He talks about New York, Mexico, and California too. The point of the song isn’t Colorado itself, but he’s talking about getting away from the noise of New York, which is where Kota is from. The lyrics focus on him escaping bad vibes and noise and drama. He also brings up some issues that he’s going through, and how people usually judge what they see on the surface without considering the deeper pain or struggle in a person’s life. Kota is a person like us all, and we all go through things sometimes. He also adds a kind tribute to Mac Miller, which fits in nicely with the theme of going through struggles and trying to find an escape. Ultimately, it’s about getting out, ditching the drama, and making his bag.

Did you listen to the song? What did you think about the beat? Can you relate to some of Kota’s feelings and thoughts in your own life? Let me know down below! As always you can reach me by email at: tietewaller@gmail.com

Listen here:

“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!