1 Verse, 1 Hearse, #15 – Nas – Triple Beam Dreams
Just from looking at the tracklist, I already knew that Nas was going to have the best verse on Rich Forever. He didn’t disappoint either. Unfortunately, Drake’s “Stay Schemin” has “Triple Beam Dreams” in the shadows. I can understand though. Beef is exciting. But, we’ve been sleeping on this verse long enough. Time to wake up. In “Triple Beam Dreams” Nas tries to help America understand the mind of a young drug dealer, Nas gives us both the sides of the slangin’ spectrum.
A project minded individual criminal tactics
Us blacks kids born with birth defects, we hyperactive
Mentally sex-crazed dysfunctional they describe us
They liars, the end of the day, we fucking survivors
I remember watching Scarface the first time
Look at that big house, that Porsche paid for by crime
How could I sell this poison to peoples in my mind
They dumb to destroy themselves is how I rationalize
In a bastardized nation, Magnum 4.5 carrying
Where I’m from, aint far from Washington Heights the cop Aryan
A rookie boy the cookie didn’t make no profit
A stranger to the block I damn near had to make them cop it
It only took a fiend to taste it once to say it’s garbage
I brought it back to poppy, aint tryna take no losses
He focuses on my emotionless young dealer face then pauses
He gives me powder he has faith in Nas’
Ambition’s to distribute coke
Had addictions to gold chains, Mercedes Benz hopes
But I’m again broke
This shit aint cut for me, other dealers they up their orders
Barely at 62′s they already up they quotas
They out there everyday, some true hustlas for ya
I’m at it halfway, none of my customers are loyal
Picturin’ piping out the seats of a Pathfinder
Powerful pursuit for pussy cash, the flash diamonds
My junior high school class, wish I stayed there
Illegal entrepreneur I got my grades there
Blaming society, man it wasn’t made fair
I would be Ivy League if America played fair
Poor excuse and so I was
Throwin’ rocks at the pen just for the love
Evil the secret life of G’s
You seeing my blurry, triple beam dreams
In “Triple Beam Dreams”, Nas raps about his deflated drug kingpin aspirations. Nas begins by talking about when he was just a teen. Once upon a time there was a young black man in Queensbridge, New York. Because his parents used drugs while he was in the womb, he was born with birth defects, one of those being hyper activity. Note that Nas generalizes here with the use of “us”, and “we”, because it’s a very common story, but remember that this is Nas’ story. Also take note that Nas doesn’t blame his parents, but society instead. Right off the bat we can tell that Nas is a rebel, itching to challenge society. He furiously denies society’s accusations calling his people sex crazed. Accusations stem from the fact that teen pregnancy is high among blacks. Once again, Nas doesn’t take responsibility, he blames the system. Obviously, young Nas isn’t going to take responsibility. He’s way too young at this point in the story. These 4 lines revealed a ton about young Nasir’s personality. He’s smart, rebellious, and of course ambitious. Or else he wouldn’t even care about this stuff. He would just conform.
Nas then answers one of the biggest questions society asks drug dealers. Why are they selling drugs? Do they know they’re destroying their own people? In his mind Nas knows that society is right. He’s doing his people wrong. But, he really needs this money. So he says, “they dumb to destroy themselves is how I rationalize”. Much like the real Esco, he blames the users. Freeing him from any moral guilt. Pablo Escobar justified his drug trade by claiming that Americans were just getting played by karma. American capitalism exploited, and ruined countries like his. So in a way Esco was paying America back. Plus, he ridiculously believed that cocaine wasn’t harmful, and that one day would become legal *cough* Ron Paul (Godfather of Cocaine). I never believed that Escobar genuinely believed this, because these two thoughts contradict themselves. Like Nas, he’s just trying to convince himself that he’s not a devil.
Nas wasn’t no Scarface or Pablo Escobar though. He had the ambition, dealing was just not meant to be. We learn about Nas’ struggles over the next few lines when he says, “it only took a fiend to taste it once to say it’s garbage”. Much like his supplier, I was surprised when Nas angrily took the product back to his supplier after he failed to sell it. Doing this takes a lot of courage. The supplier himself noticed Nas’ ambition, and moved him up a level to selling powder cocaine. Nas was probably selling rock cocaine before. Although, it sounds like Nas was selling powder, because he says it only took a fiend to “taste” it once, Nas was still selling rock. You can still taste a rock by using it. Therefore, I believe the supplier saw Nas’ ambitions and moved him up to the more “prestigious” powder cocaine. The difference between the two types of drugs might not seem obvious. But, think about it in terms of cars. Let’s say you have one person selling used cars, and another selling new Mercedes-Benz’. Both men are car salesmen, but the Benz salesmen is probably higher up on the ladder. It’s the same thing with selling rock, and powder cocaine. Have you ever noticed that in most movies you always see poor people using the rock, and rich people using the powder? Also, rock cocaine is more penalized than powder cocaine. Powder cocaine is the most prestigious out of the two types, and selling it was a big advancement in Nas’ “career”.
Even though, Nas’ bossman has given him plenty of opportunities, Nas can’t fit into the drug dealer shoes given to him by society. He’s still broke. Other dealers’ product is still better than his, hence the “none of my customers are loyal”. When Nas says that he’s at it halfway, and he’s not out in the street all day, makes me think that he doesn’t believe in the business 100%. Nas may have gotten a part-time minimum wage job, because there is no reason for him to not be out in the streets everyday. Sure, his customers aren’t loyal, but him being the ambitious character that he his, there’s no reason for him to not be out in the streets everyday. At the beginning Nas was excited about his job, now he’s starting to question his decisions. I never believed that he believed himself when he said, “they dumb to destroy themselves is how I rationalize” anyways. This led to his poor performance, and this leads me into the next line, where he verbally starts to really question his choices, and the path he’s taken.
The man, Nasir Jones now regrets dropping out of Junior High School. He also states that if it weren’t for his socio-economic level he would be attending prestigious Ivy league schools instead of slangin’ prestigious coke. The man stops himself though, he says it’s a “poor excuse”. Remember in the beginning he was just bashing society? Now he’s finally grown up, and he’s taking responsibility for his actions. Plus, he now believes in the school system. With that Nas finishes talking about his unfulfilled triple beam dreams.
I would love it if Nas & Ross made a video for this track. By video, I’m not talking about two dudes rapping in front of a camera. I’m talking about visualizing the story above. Although at this point Nas shouldn’t be surprising me, he really surprised me on this verse. Unlike Ross, Nas told us an unbiased raw story of a drug dealer that may or may not be a reflection of his personal experiences. With the verse he tries to tell America about why some people do what they do. Most people think that a drug dealer is the scum of society. Others believe that they’re just the product of a broken system. Nas speaks to both sides in 1 verse. He doesn’t glorify drug dealing (unlike Ross), and he doesn’t vilify dealers either. Most rappers shove the fact that drug dealing is cool down our throats. Nas gives us a story looking at both sides of the spectrum. He looks at both the positives (money), and the negatives (jail), which forces us to think, and make our own decision about drug dealers. Thanks Nas.