Video Analysis Of Billionaire By Travis Mccoy Film Studies Essay

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Dreams of waking up as a billionaire have circled around the consciousness of many, especially through periods when life knocks you down and mostly to those who belong to an ethnic group that is looked upon as a threat to the society. The 29 year old Travis “Travie” Lazurus McCoy, in his twice Platinum (“RIAA Gold & Platinum,” 2010), #4 Billboard Hot 100 debut single, “Billionaire ft. Bruno Mars” (Summer 2010), imagines what would happen if he became a billionaire. He references all the desires on his wish list and also mentions the good he would do to others with the money, along with his desire to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine and “smiling next to Oprah and The Queen.” An analysis is run through the artist’s desire of turning rich to make a change for the less fortunate African Americans who are mistreated daily.

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The Hip Hop/Rap single from the solo album “Lazarus” with a simple title “Billionaire” was co-written by the 7 Grammy Award nominee and producer Peter Hernandez of the Puerto Rican origin. His stage name in the music industry is Bruno Mars from the production trio of “The Smeezingtons.” Bruno has co-written many international smashing hits along with many famous artists like Flo Rida. On the other hand, Travie himself, who is of Haitian origin and who heads from Geneva, New York, wrote the other part. Travie has a legendary music background, tracing back to his career as the lead vocalist of the alternative hip-hop band Gym Class Heroes (“Travie McCoy Music News & Info,” 2010). The producer is “The Smeezingtons” and the record label is the New York based Fueled By Ramen (“Billionaire by Travie McCoy,” 2010).

The single has been released as a music video, which seems to be a trend for any new single to showcase its message visually and to reach a wider audience range, mainly through the Internet. The Billionaire is targeted towards pretty much the same audience as any hip hop/rap title, the teens and young adults, aged 15-35. It is targeted towards a specific ethnic group, as in the most cases of this genre, the mass population of the whites, who in terms spend a lot on music.

The music video was filmed in the sunny California and it has been first debuted on MTV. It shows Travie driving a Mini Cooper, and helping four people and a group. The first is giving a guy a new skateboard, the second was buying an unknown, aspiring artist’s CD, the third was a teenager trying to hitchhike to Geneva, New York and when Travie got out of the car, he gave away the keys of the Mini. Finally giving a graffiti artist some spray-paint, for that to express the young talent within. The second location was a beach party of partygoers who ran dry on beer, and in come Travie and Bruno, handing out beers to restore life to the party. It is important to notice that there is a hidden commercial ad of the popular “Tuborg” beer at the 2:34 length of the video. It is latent due to the fact that the bottles and the beer box are taken from an angle that blurs the brand name. However Tuborg’s green label bottles are widely known. Hence the message that is originally meant as entertainment contains latent information about young’s and their interests.

The song has an opening line by Bruno Mars, who’s ancestry is linked with black slaves, declares that “I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad”. The status of billionaire is recognized as the minority of elites who have a billion in the country’s currency. This triggers an interest in one’s consciousness; an interest of being rich along with its privileges and how would your life change. Next Bruno reinstates on that being rich means that you could have all the goodies of the universe. At this moment, some might think of happiness, others about drugs, sex or even power. For Bruno, it’s being on the cover of the world’s famous and most elite magazine for the rich barons called Forbes, where only a couple of lucky famous international figures show off their smiles, being on the world’s yearly rich list. This brings upon an important aspect of the media message, a historical and cultural reference. Forbes has been the ultimate publication of the rich high-ranking executives from all over the world; on the other hand, it’s a dream for the less fortunate. Furthermore, he touches upon the popular figures, an easy way to engage with the mind of the listener, by simultaneously pointing out people of similar interest and global fame; he desires to smile next to one of the world’s few black billionaires and TV host Oprah Winfrey and the Queen (most probably Queen Elizabeth II). Once again, here comes more of a historical linkage, a hidden from the logic connection between black Bruno and billionaire Oprah. Most of the American population knows Oprah and her sad story of being rape-pregnant at the age of 9, and later her tough life as a black in the neighborhoods of Mississippi. For a black African American and equally to the whites, hearing such words, not only triggers the deepest feelings and emotions of one’s own past and present, but also a hope, a light at the end of the tunnel; to believe in one another and your own, in the way Oprah did it.

Next comes a chorus. This time it’s more of an inception, a dream within a dream that Bruno already started by putting one self onto Forbes cover. Here he dreams, with every time that he closes his eyes, he visualizes his name in shinny lines, where shinny references to bold and elegant banners and titles on magazines and street billboards. Not surprisingly, Bruno tries to showcase himself as man with power and recognition, once he gains the billionaire status: “I swear the world better prepare for when I’m a billionaire.”

Furthermore, Travie, while driving around town offers agreement and support to Bruno’s words. Being a host of a show like Oprah means big money, here is where Travie takes more of a philanthropic billionaires’ position by accepting a wish list from all the people and making everyday a Christmas, a time of giving that is. Soon Travie pulls up intertextuality and points onto Brad and Angelina and their scandals that made them famous. Mainly, intertextuality is seen most in the idea of adopting kids and giving them everything what they never had before, this refers to the generosity and trend of Angelina Jolie who is known for her numerous adoptions and support for children from the god’s forgotten nations. This pulls up an important point and going away from the famous cliché of the rich being greedy, he and Angelina will go hand in hand and save the world’s little kids. The rest of the lyrics go very similar to the main plot of simply becoming a billionaire, to help the poor, to give away goodies that gained elite status in the society, the Mercedes for ladies’ enjoyment for instance, here once again a cultural reference is latent as Mercedes is a status of wealth. Next Travie puts up money for the victims of the Hurricane Katrina. Here Travie touches a very important fact, mostly a political decision, again by a group of powerful and elites. He talks about the irresponsibility towards Katrina’s relief by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and that he could do lots more than them. Critical to understand, why Travie talks about Katrina and not any other hurricane, when it is known that there were many more before his debut release in 2010. Mostly to trigger solidarity and emotion towards the mass population of African Americans who were victims in the city of New Orleans. All the lyrics still circle around the same idea, of the blacks being mistreated and left out. This is a very strong historical and in a way cultural reference too. Since title debuted in summer, a time of pleasure and party, but is linked with the unfortunate happenings of 2005 Katrina. It’s a latent tribute to the less fortunate.

In the final words, Travie mainly points the audiences’ attention to the social status and trend of being rich. At this point, different audiences depending on their social level would reason differently. Mainly what would you and your friends be once you have a billion in your bank. Here Travie does a very critical move, instead of converting the lyrics into a political propaganda, he takes it easy. He talks about playing basketball with the President. Once again there is a cultural reference, basketball mainly refers to the neighborhood game of African American teenagers. Therefore playing with the president would mean steering the president’s attention towards the difficulties of the blacks. Furthermore, he indirectly touches upon the tax law; mainly being rich means that you will pay different taxes, a social inequality. At the end, he returns to his philanthropic position and will spend the money on his family and friends, and give them the main necessities of life. This conveys a message that would be interpreted differently, but the source is the same, help the less fortunate blacks.

Moving deeper into song structure, the hit uses the standard versus-chorus style. The verse and chorus are considered the primary elements. Each verse in the “Billionaire” has the same melody with some slight modifications towards the end, but the lyrics change for most verses. The chorus (refrain) by Bruno Mars has a melodic phrase and a key lyrical line, which is repeated: “Oh every time I close my eyes.” Next, the song’s chord sequence is sampled directly from Sublime’s 1996 track, “Santeria.” This was written about a guy envisioning using black magic or “Santeria” – anything he can to get back his girl (“Santeria by Sublime Song facts”, 2010). Using sampled tracks in rap songs has become a wide spread trend, to bring upon a hidden context, more often this is done for the purpose of linking two similar messages. However in the case of “Billionaire” this is false and no intertextuality is seen. The artist has simply lent the guitar chord sequence. Furthermore, the song itself is recorded professionally under supervision from the “The Smeezingtons” (producer). The music itself is high quality stereo. On top of this, the music video is shot in high definition (HD) format, a standard these days. Most of the times, the angle is equal and focus set at the people and their activities, in color, both during day and night.

Finally, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is responsible for the promoting of the creative vitality of the major music companies, certified “Billionaire” as 2 times Platinum, which signifies over 2,000,000 shipments.

The “Billionaire” single has earned both Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars significant international recognition and fame. It’s a relaxing song, that not only reminds us of the various life inequalities that are faced daily by the different ethnic groups, but also it gives hope and supports a dream of each of us.

Travie McCoy – Billionaire Lyrics featuring Bruno Mars

[Bruno Mars]

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad

buy all of the things I never had

uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine

smiling next to Oprah and the Queen


Oh every time I close my eyes

I see my name in shining lights

A different city every night oh

I swear the world better prepare

for when I’m a billionaire

[Travis “Travie” McCoy]

Yeah I would have a show like Oprah

I would be the host of, everyday Christmas

give Travie a wish list

I’d probably pull an Angelina and Brad Pitt

and adopt a bunch of babies that ain’t never had sh-t

give away a few Mercedes like here lady have this

and last but not least grant somebody their last wish

its been a couple months since I’ve single so

you can call me Travie Claus minus the Ho Ho

get it, hehe, I’d probably visit where Katrina hit

and damn sure do a lot more than FEMA did

yeah can’t forget about me stupid

everywhere I go Imma have my own theme music


Oh every time I close my eyes

I see my name in shining lights

A different city every night oh

I swear the world better prepare

for when I’m a billionaire

oh oooh oh oooh for when I’m a Billionaire

oh oooh oh oooh for when I’m a Billionaire

[Travis “Travie” McCoy]

I’ll be playing basketball with the President

dunking on his delegates

then I’ll compliment him on his political etiquette

toss a couple milli in the air just for the heck of it

but keep the fives, twentys (?) completely separate

and yeah I’ll be in a whole new tax bracket

we in recession but let me take a crack at it

I’ll probably take whatever’s left and just split it up

so everybody that I love can have a couple bucks

and not a single tummy around me would know what hungry was

eating good sleeping soundly

I know we all have a similar dream

go in your pocket pull out your wallet

and put it in the air and sing

[Bruno Mars]

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad

buy all of the things I never had

uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine

smiling next to Oprah and the Queen


I wanna be a billionaire so frickin bad!

Reference Page

Billionaire by Travie Mccoy. (2010). Retrieved December 14th, 2010 from

RIAA Gold and Platinum. (2010, June 18). Retrieved December 18th, 2010 from

Santeria by Sublime Song facts. (2010). Retrieved December 14th, 2010 from

Travie McCoy Music News & Info | (2010). Retrieved December 12th, 2010 from


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