Street Dreams

Street Dreams


“Street Dreams” has Nas illustrating the mind-state of drug-dealing, and explains why kids growing up in the ghetto often choose this lifestyle. The bigger picture, or the “street dream” is the ghetto’s version of the “American Dream.” Most of Nas' criticism focuses on the American education and justice systems.

Nas talked about making this song in an interview with Complex:

That was basically what I was around at the time. Guys wasn’t diving into the music industry trying to get paid off music, they were still hustling. I had one foot still in the street so I was the voice for the people I was hanging with. It didn’t matter what this guy and that guy were talking about, I was talking about reality.

[I sang the hook on that and] I was definitely the first guy from my era that was singing. People wanted to hate until Biggie sang ‘Playa Hater.’ He stopped any hate that was about to start. When they saw him do it, they were like, ‘Okay, I guess this is the way things are going now.’

The song’s beat is similar to 2Pac’s “All Eyez On Me"—which was also released in 1996—because they both sample Linda Clifford’s “Never Gonna Stop.” But according to Poke of Trackmasters, it was a coincidence:

At the time, Tupac had come out with the same sample. We had no idea he was doing that. Some people ask, ‘Did Tupac take that idea from Nas, or did Nas take that idea from Tupac? What’s the deal with that?’ They were just being creative on the West Coast and we were being creative on the East Coast, it just so happened to play out like that. That was a total coincidence.

This song was also the first song by Nas to crack the Top 50’s in the Billboard’s Top 100, peaking at No. 22 on the charts. A remix, which featured R. Kelly, was released shortly after the original.