Where is the Butterfly Effect in Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect”?

Where is the Butterfly Effect in Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect”?

If you haven?t seen the movie The Butterfly Effect, and or you don?t know what it is, a simple way to understand it is the idea that one small, seemingly insignificant choice can have humongous, even catastrophic effects on an individual?s life or the world. For example, ?The flap of a butterfly?s wings in America can cause a hurricane in China.? Even though these two events are completely separate and on opposite sides of the world, it?s not impossible that there is a logical chain of cause and effect that make the statement true.

Image for postMr Scott

Travis Scott?s Song ?Butterfly Effect? has recently reached platinum status. Impressive for a popular hip hop song to reference such a weighty philosophical concept, but seeing as how the song never explicitly mentions the actual butterfly effect, does it do the concept justice? Aside from the butterflies in the video, does Travis have any idea what he?s rapping about or did he just pick a phrase that sounds cool?

I think that Travis indeed has a layered, metaphorical approach to his rapping and that this song does discuss the nature of fate from a personal perspective, which leads to the song?s success. The chorus remains catchy but in the theme of fate and the decisions we all make on the day to day. The rhyming and wordplay techniques send a mesmerizing message that bring a personal but relatable touch to the song, creating an experience you can?t help but be drawn into.

The key to the song is the phrase ?For this life, I cannot change,? which he opens the song with. This is a key line to understanding the nature of the butterfly effect to Travis, but there are two ways to interpret this part. The first way to read it is: ?For (this) life, I cannot change,? or ?I cannot change for life.? This sounds like Travis is saying that if he wanted his life a certain way, he wouldn?t be able to make it so. If his life is a reflection of his choices and actions, then if he chose or acted a certain way, his life would change. But Travis denies this. Instead this actually implies the reverse ? which is: The way his life is affects and decides the outcomes he himself chooses. Aka the butterfly effect.

The other way to read this line is ?Wherefore, this life I cannot change? with emphasis on this. Travis brings contrast to the realization that the way his life is isn?t necessarily the product of his own doing, but rather a culmination of something that was set into motion long ago. As simple as a line of a chorus can be, it hinges the song on the ideas of fate and decision making.

The rest of the chorus is a dramatic but coded retelling of the facts of life, but with the feeling that whatever happens, just happens. Of course this includes where you are born, being addicted to drugs and harmful substances, or even killing people. The next line in the chorus: ?Hidden Hills, deep off in the main? refers to a secluded area of Hollywood, where Travis hangs out with his girlfriend and other celebrities. This brings attention to the fact that fame is sort of a random occurrence; sometimes it?s a situation you?re born into, as is the case with Travis? girlfriend, Kylie Jenner. Anyone can be famous for anything and it is actually really hard to predict what will make someone famous and what won?t.

The next line, ?M&Ms, sweet like candy cane,? seems innocent, but it?s actually about doing drugs (?M&Ms? as slang for MDMA) ? something that doing even once can change your life. It can start out as innocent and fun, like eating candy, but could become an addiction without even realizing it. Buying, dealing, even death; it all arguably started from the first time you ever did them.

Another potentially forked meaning is present in Travis? next line: ?Drop the top, pop it let it bang.? The line could also refer to popping a Molly and having sex and partying, a ?transcendent? experience. Having a new, mind blowing experience might seem like a one night thing, something you look back on and say ?that was weird.? It might seem scary to approach, but the next day, it?s could completely change or transform your life.

This could also refer to killing people (drive by shootings with top down), an obvious example of choices leading to direct consequences. The act of violence could be as simple as pulling a trigger, but is the direct action that caused a death really the primary cause of it? Or is the explanation found in the mob you joined, the force you serve, or the military you fight for? As precious as one life is, many people in the world commit acts of violence for a larger picture, so it makes sense that this falls into the butterfly effect.

Travis then repeats these four lines to complete the chorus, as if these chapters in his life repeat over and over, again playing into the themes of destiny. Something he returns to in his verse, stating, ?We bustin? bills, but still ain?t nothin? changed / You in the mob soon as you rock the chain.?

In the end, I think Travis brings up a few interesting points on the nature of the butterfly effect and how we all play into it ? its effects are larger than we might really want to admit. Throughout the song, Travis is using wordplay as an example of the butterfly effect. He sets up a line using one word or phrase, in turn setting up how the rest of the line wo(u)rd play out to complete that first phrase used. In a sense, the second half of a sentence or wordplay was caused, determined, or given specific form by the word used previously. This is the result of the butterfly effect.


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