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Meaning of ‘90210’ by ‘Travis Scott’ feat. Kacy Hill

Released: 2015

Features: Kacy Hill

Travis Scott’s “90210” featuring Kacy Hill is a vivid narrative that plunges into the depths of fame, struggle, and transformation. It contrasts the alluring, yet often misleading, glitter of Hollywood with the personal growth and internal battles of individuals, epitomized by Scott’s own journey from Houston to the heights of hip-hop royalty. The song’s title itself is a nod to the infamous Beverly Hills zip code, symbolizing the dreams and nightmares nestled within the pursuit of fame.

The opening lines immediately set the scene with a young woman, described as a “porn star girl from the valley,” who moves to Hollywood (“that alley”) chasing dreams that the zip code 90210 represents. This move is depicted as a double-edged sword—her escape to a place of perceived opportunity also becomes a source of her downfall, as indicated by the metaphor of Lake Tahoe being created from her panties. The juxtaposition of craving for a better life (“craving 9021-“) with the reality of her situation (“hooked on feeling low”) illustrates the harsh reality behind the facade of glamour in Hollywood.

Travis Scott, referring to himself in third person as “Jacques turned La Flame,” delves into his own narrative of metamorphosis and excess. The transformation from Jacques (his birth name, Jacques Webster) to La Flame signifies his rise in the hip-hop scene, while the references to drug use (“rolling on an Addy,” “pop him a pill”) underscore the coping mechanisms many turn to amidst the pressures of fame and success. The chains and the Cadillac represent the material symbols of success in hip-hop culture, but their mention in the context of finding “that alley” implies a search for meaning beyond material possessions.

As the song transitions towards its latter half, the focus shifts from external narratives to Scott’s personal reflections on his career, family, and the authenticity of those around him. He talks about his work ethic being a concern for his grandmother and the newfound happiness of his father due to his success. This success, however, comes with its own set of challenges—fraudulent friends and the pressures of maintaining his image (“you niggas want the swag, you can’t have it”).

The narrative becomes more introspective as Scott acknowledges the sacrifices made for his fame (“I done made it now, I done found life’s meaning now”) and the realization that not all that glitters is gold. His success is bittersweet, marked by estrangement from friends and the heavy burden of expectations. The verse ends with a nod to his roots and the support system that keeps him grounded, highlighting the importance of family and genuine connections over the superficial allure of fame.

“90210” is a masterclass in storytelling, weaving together the personal and the universal in its examination of fame’s allure and its costs. By juxtaposing the dream of success with the reality of personal turmoil, Travis Scott delivers a cautionary tale that resonates with anyone who has ever sought meaning in the mirage of the spotlight. It’s a critical, yet appreciative reflection on the journey to fame, marked by Scott’s signature moody beats and introspective lyrics. Through the haze of fame and success, “90210” captures the heart of hip-hop’s narrative tradition: the quest for authenticity in a world that often demands otherwise.

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