Nas’ Verse on “Triple Beam Dreams” (Rick Ross: Rich Forever)
TBD has gained quite a bit of attention lately; it is one of most discussed tracks on Rick Ross’ most recent mixtape, Rich Forever. Following the theme of being “rich forever”, this track discusses the realities of coming up in the drug game. Classic rap theme. While Ross reminisces of his pager in the 90s, Nas gives us insight into the goods/evils of his own come up. Who better to feature than Nas?! What’s exciting about Nas’ verse specifically is that it brings us back to the early ’90s, Illmatic-type setting. Its good to see him stay relevant and leave an impression. Ross opens up the song and Nas does what he does best: tell stories. I’m here to break down his verse for you:
“A project minded individual, criminal tactics
Us black kids ‘born with birth defects, we hyperactive
Mentally sex-crazed, dysfunctional’ they describe us
They liars, the end of the day, we fucking survivors”
Nas begins his story by introducing himself. Growing up in the projects sometimes crime really does pay, and pays fast. This story is set during the crack epidemic in New York. Back then, it was common to either see babies being born to crack-abusing parents, or to be one of these children yourself. This led a huge misrepresentation of the black community being “born with birth defects”. Nas states that these are lies and that he’s a survivor. He didnt get stuck in the “trap”.
“I remember watching Scarface the first time
Look at that big house, that Porsche paid for by crime”
Scarface aka Tony Montana, was the definition of “crime pays”. The movie itself was released during the rise of the cocaine epidemic, and had a huge influence on those who were hustling street drugs. Scarface’s lavish lifestyle and respect was the motive.
“How could I sell this poison to peoples in my mind
They dumb to destroy themselves is how I rationalize”
He rationalizes selling the poison (crack) to his community by concluding that the customers are dumb to even touch it. His mind is on getting paid
“In a bastardized nation, Magnum 4.5 carrying”
He means this in a literal way, he sees a gun-carrying society with absent fathers.
“Where I’m from, aint far from Washington Heights the cop Aryan”
Here he tells us how he could cop white (aryan) easily from Washington Heights in Queens (where he’s from).
“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 papi, aint tryna take no losses
He focuses on my emotionless, young dealer face then pauses
He gives me powder, he has faith in Nas’”
Nas talks about his early come-up as a rookie drug dealer. After discovering the product he was given wasn’t good, he took it back to “papi” (his supplier) to save potential money losses from the start. Nas’ early integrity impressed “Papi” so he trusted him with a higher quality product.
“Ambitions 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”
He’s loving the money, but can’t seem to stabilize his flow. He says his “shit” (crack) isn’t “cut” for him, meaning the way its cooked isn’t good enough to keep his clientele loyal. He’s watching other dealers out in the streets everyday, making more money than he is.
“Picturin’ piping out the seats of a Pathfinder
Powerful pursuit for pussy, cash, the flash diamonds”
Imagining all the good that comes with the hustle (cars, girls, money, jewellery).
“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”
Wishing he could have stayed in school, blaming society that he dropped out. If “America played fair” he would be “Ivy League”, a student at one of the prestigious group of the highest regarded schools in the US.
“Before the evil, the secret life of G’s
You seeing my blurry, triple beam dreams”
Secrecy and evil go hand in hand. His “triple beam dreams” (triple beam = triple beam balance scale, used to measure cocaine) are blurry because of this. All that he wants comes at an evil cost. We feel Nas battle with his conscience throughout this verse.
Overall, this is a pretty dope track and my personal favourite from Rich Forever.