"Triple Beam Dreams": A Reinvigoration of Tradition

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Hip Hop has a tendency to double back on itself and repeat seminal phases in its development (see “Suicide, it’s a suicide”, “All black everything”, “Yes, yes, y'all, and you don’t stop, “Now the party didn’t start until I walked in”, Milk is chillin', Giz is chillin', what more can I say, top billin', Illmatic, “Six million ways to die…choose one!”, “swag” (perhaps) among a host of other Hip Hop meme lines).

Also: See a post on Jay-Z’s “borrowing” of certain Biggie lines.

Some songs can be viewed as the topical or sonic descendants of those that came before. It is, within the context of this music homage-paying, that I believe “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Triple Beam Dreams” are connected.

Additionally, Nas and Raekwon have linked up on numerous songs, perhaps most notably, the Mobb Deep song “Eye For An Eye (feat. Nas, Raekwon), and the wondrous “Verbal Intercourse (feat. Nas),” the first song which featured a rapper not previously affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan (Nas).


“C.R.E.A.M.,” of course, is the classic song by the Wu-Tang Clan from their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), released on November 9th, 1993. In fact, the phrase, itself, is an example of Hip Hop’s intertextuality, as the term was quickly picked up by rappers to denote cash. This past August, Complex Magazine recently named it the #1 best Wu-Tang song on its lists.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e69laCvKxEw


“Triple Beam Dreams”, featuring Nas is a titanic coke narrative by Rick Ross from his recent Rich Forever mixtape, released January 6th, 2012.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHudPfvuUNM

These two songs converge around several points.


  • Each song has two abnormally long, yet masterful, verses, suggesting that their words are so essential that they cannot be restricted by the all-too-familiar 16-line verse. Thus, in breaking this structural tradition, they’re also reinvigorating the tradition of the urban griot that Hip Hop so often embodies.
  • They deal heavily with the socioeconomic aspirations, “dreams,” and “hopes” of (a portion of) the urban poor.
  • Both songs cover the trials wrought by these dreams being attained through criminal activity, both personal and environmental.


The songs' verses correlate thematically with one from the other song.
– Inspektah Deck and Nas’s verses are both drenched in a gritty realism, perhaps a pessimism, borne of a battered life whose adolescence was denied innocence.
– Likewise, Raekwon’s verse correlates thematically with Ross’s verse. Theirs possesses a (Greek) tragic element, which takes us, to some degree, on an emotional roller coaster. Rae starts in the depths of urban postindustrial hardship, but 24 lines later, the story ends on a high-note with Rae connecting with a well-established drug ring, raking in the green backs.
– With his verse’s beginning, Ross throws up in the middle of courtroom proceedings in which a former associate is revealing incriminating information about his cocaine distribution. By the verses end, Ross sends us to a somewhat nostalgic flashback, before he was known as a drug lord, implying that he would rather delve into his memories than face his present reality of potential incarceration.

Obviously, “Triple Beam Dreams” can’t hope, within the foreseeable future, to approach the stature and veneration of “C.R.E.A.M.,”, but it is my firm belief that it is a worthy successor to “C.R.E.A.M.”, and is evidence of topical, thematic, and structural similarities, used in conjunction to underscore Hip Hop’s self-reference.