“Billionaire”

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Paul Asay

Album Review

Travie McCoy isn’t a billionaire—yet. But it’s not for lack of trying.

McCoy, frontman for the alternative hip-hop/rap-rock hybrid Gym Class Heroes, has been on a quest for personal fame and fortune since forming that band in high school with drummer Matt McGinley. That was 1997. Heroes officially reached the big time in 2007 with the gold-certified As Cruel as Schoolchildren; since then, the band’s had several hits, snagged a handful of awards and, presumably, pocketed a fair bit of cash.

But certainly not $1 billion.

So now McCoy has released his first solo album, Lazarus. Its first single is “Billionaire.” Featured vocalist Bruno Mars’ oh-so-smooth tenor and lazy, laid-back acoustic riffing bring to mind Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, while McCoy’s playful raps and upbeat attitude recall Will Smith’s hip-hop hits. Given his genre’s ongoing love affair with bling, you’d expect McCoy to indulge in some materialistic fantasies. And so he does: As its title suggests, the song is an unabashed hymn to the superlative joys of obscene wealth. McCoy brags he’ll be in his very own tax bracket, and Mars sings that he’ll be on the “cover of Forbes magazine/Smiling next to Oprah and the queen.” The chorus prattles on about how wonderful it’ll be to have “my name in shining lights” and “a different city every night.”

But McCoy’s vision of billionaire life isn’t completely self-focused. His lyrics are often nicely charitable—particularly when compared to some of his compatriots. McCoy talks about adopting needy children like “Angelina and Brad Pitt,” doling out the occasional Mercedes and giving “somebody their last wish.” He also says he’d try to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and give “everybody I love” a “couple bucks.”

“And not a single tummy around me would know what hungry was,” McCoy raps. “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.”

Not so nice, however, is Mars’ use of the f-word in his opening and closing lines. (The radio edit of the song substitutes “fricken'” for the f-word.) Other profanities include the s-word and “d‑‑n.” McCoy drifts into suggestive territory when his raps, “Travie Claus minus the ho ho/Get it?”

The “Billionaire” video offers the same sort of good news/bad news story. While McCoy motors around on a scooter and gives away his car to a traveler in need, he also provides a party with loads of beer and a graffiti artist with a new spray can to spell out the name of his ode to a bling-filled life on a beachside wall.

Paul Asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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