I liked this song from the moment I first heard it. Locksmith tapped into my vibe with this song. Beginning with a muffled kick under a soft arpeggiation, leading to smooth piano chords and Marc E. Bassy with a silky chorus expanding with more arpeggiation, the song introduces American Beauty.
Bright eyes, sky is the limit
From the high rise to the country road.
Whoa! I will say this truly.
Life ain’t no movie,
but she’ll make me work for a heart of gold.
My American Beauty. Whoa!
My American Beauty. Whoa!
She’s my American…
The beat drops and Locksmith enters in.
The first few times I listened, I felt it right away. Just like my most recent favorite rap ballad, “All I Need is You” by LeCrae, it was on the surface about the girl, my American Beauty. Verse 1 was love and respect for her. Verse 2 was uncertainty and insecurity. Verse 3 was the outside misunderstanding the relationship.
The Other Meaning
Then, it hit me as I listened, probably for the 42nd time. This song is my struggle. Not with any woman, but something even more beautiful and sinister. The line that flipped the script for me sits at the end of the second verse just before the bridge to chorus.
My beautiful nightmare.
My bright American Dream.
Locksmith cleverly disguised a song about the struggle to achieve the American Dream in the form of a love song to a wayward and misunderstood girlfriend. In an instant, Locksmith’s craftiness elevated this album to a case study–a piece of hip-hop history, a conscious presentation integrated track by track to express the challenge of working toward Lofty Goals.
Verse 1: The Faithful American Dream
My American Pie. Such a beauty but truly no comparing you. I
know these other dudes be lying they’re just married to pride.
You lucky I’m not your typical American guy.
Lock suggests that many want the riches of the American Dream for their own selfish pride, but he’s different.
For whatever kind of position you’ve embarrassed the try,
For whenever we get together though your parents deny.
Whether you California live or you chillin’ in Chi.
I stay true. That’s a typical American lie.
Lock reveals that the American Dream is actually a female with parents he doesn’t identify. I think they are father capitalism and mother industry. They deny opportunity to those who aren’t totally committed. She, the American Dream, embarrasses those who “try.” Suggesting that to succeed, you must be totally committed and do or do not. You will be embarrassed if you halfheartedly try.
My bad. I know you got me, even when [it] gets rocky.
Truly you’re one of one. These other [itches] is copies.
Sort of stuck in a daze. No other woman can stop me.
Sort of stuck in my ways, but really look where it got me.
But, she has you when you are disciplined and consistent. Other options, the easy way, will attempt to distract, but the American Dream is like no other in the world. The struggle can leave you dazed and confused, but the distractions won’t stop Locksmith. He’s committed to the dream and it’s finally paying off.
(uh) The bright lights, (uh)the big city,
(uh) she stay down, (uh) and ride with me.
(uh) Ain’t got to front y’all can clearly see, could be anywhere in the world but she’s her with me
In moments like this success, it feels great. The American Dream seems faithful and committed. But, the chorus reminds us that it’s not her faithfulness, it’s the work that earns the “heart of gold.”
Verse 2: The Wayward American Dream
Am I devoted? (Yes)
Without motive? (Yes)
When you around, nobody else Imma notice. (Unless)
You give me reason I’m out, an uneven amount,
A side look, and that’s the reason I doubt.
The American Dream requires complete devotion and selflessness. But, she doesn’t provide equally for equal effort. It causes Locksmith to have doubts about her faithfulness.
I’m not tryin’ to put you in pressure,
But I see what it’s ‘bout.
But I feel a different impression
When it’s you and me out.
And you show me a little love
I purchase it like a drug.
Got the whole world hooked,
And that’s the reason we out.
Locksmith begins his break-up letter explaining that his eyes are being opened to see this relationship for what it truly is: a one-sided affair. The success is addictive, but the American Dream is desired all around the world. And, the worst part, she’s willing to provide opportunity for all of them.
And, I sort of feel like a fiend.
Sort of feel like it’s mean.
She flirting with other lads
It’s killing my self-esteem.
It’s killing my confidence.
I’m hanging on by a string.
My beautiful nightmare.
My bright American Dream.
Now, Lock sulks a bit and throws himself a pity party. He is dying inside until he realizes what has happened to him over the time he pursued the American Dream. He is stronger, wiser, more focused. He realizes that this is the promise of the American Dream. Not to be possessed as HIS dream, but to provide a beacon of light guiding all ships to come safely to harbor.
(And uh) She’s so bad
(But uh) She’s so pretty.
(And uh) She’s shut down
(But uh) I’m so privy.
Y’all can hate, but it’s clear to me
She’s been everywhere in the world but she’s still with me
In that moment, Locksmith realizes he is privy to what only a few understand. You must pursue the American Dream like you would pursue a wife, but she will never be faithful. She travels the world courting suitors. Yet, she is yours, in a way, each moment as you continue to work for her.
Verse 3: Explaining the Addiction
I feel a chill when I turn from her.
Feel it build. I’m concerned for you.
Feel like these jealous [foes]
Try to keep you on your toes
But there’s a lot we can learn from you.
Enter the people that tell you to drop that unfaithful harlot. But, their are truly just jealous of the commitment that you show toward your American Dream. Locksmith understands that we can learn a lot if we just maintain the relationship.
Word from you in a text
You’re not one to be controlled
You’re not easily impressed
I’m not tryin’ to get you home.
I just want to see you blessed.
Karma [or Momma] don’t understand.
That’s why you always seem stressed.
Then, Locksmith makes the double entendre of the song clear to everyone who will listen. The American Dream will not be controlled or impressed. Lock just wants to see the dream survive. I’m not sure whether the word is “Karma” or “Momma” but either fits. I like Karma because that interpretation suggests that no understanding exists in the natural law. You reap what you sow. That natural laws don’t give you any allowance because you want it so badly. The lyric could be “Momma” just as easily. Locksmith confesses in another song that his mom prayed that he not succeed in order to protect him. Probably not from the work, but his mom didn’t understand that success doesn’t corrupt. Corrupted men taste success and are seduced. Locksmith isn’t trying to sleep with the American Dream. The American Dream is stressed by everyone wanting to succeed, misunderstood or not.
They try to judge you for the things you’ve done.
Like they never been hurt, never been young.
Regardless of circumstance, still advance,
But it’s not a movie.
You’re my American Beauty.
The mistake many make is to attempt to judge this struggle–the struggle for the American Dream–as a love story. They were disappointed in many ways, and they judge that others will be disappointed. They want to save others from this fate. But, Locksmith will continue to advance because he realizes that this is not a movie with a happy ending, scripted as such. This life is a struggle with the American Dream as a beautiful goal that keeps those who accept the challenge rising early, working smart, and growing success by success.
My favorite song!