“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
More Lyrics “Explained”
“Butterfly Effect” Lyrics & Explanations
- Other meanings: This probably has to do with money. The more commas, the bigger the number is; 1(,)00(,)000(,)000(,) …
- Other meanings: This is a popular tagline from the producer on this song, Murda Beatz.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Expressions: “Heating up” figuratively means that something is getting started, it’s just beginning. A similar expression is “warming 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slang: “Broads” is another term for young women. It’s an older term that can be seen as disrespectful to some women.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Grammar: *”We have / we’ve been moving …”
- Expressions: “Moving” here refers to making moves, or doing things to make money and have success.
- 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.
Then it repeats.