Music is arguably one of the most powerful communication tools that humanity has. No other medium of communication is able to create such a powerful representation of emotion across such a wide spectrum of people. Lyrics add a completely separate dimension and allow artists to take a snapshot of a very specific and real part of the human condition and extrapolate it with chord progression, note structure, and melody that add to the story that they are trying to tell in a way that no other method of communication is capable. Artists can wrap up their life experiences into a three to four minute ballad that speaks to millions and is relatable and beautiful no matter what walk of life people find themselves in. No matter the genre, the time period, or the lifestyle, music is an almost universally recognized language.
An artist that does an especially good job communicating his backstory and the influences of his life through his music is American rapper and artist NF. In this article, we will explore his life, his reputation, his music, and how he has gotten where he is today as one of the most emotionally vulnerable rappers of the new century.
What is NF’s Name and Backstory?
Born Nathan John Feuerstein in 1991, the musician who goes by the stage name NF is an American rapper, singer and songwriter who has released several successful studio albums and has a very large following. His backstory is rather tragic and is filled with hardships that certainly had an impact on the life he has had to live and has influenced his music in several ways.
His parents got a divorce not long after he was born, and his father had to raise him after his mother’s boyfriend was abusive to him. Not much later, NF’s mother died of a heroin overdose, which led to him dedicating a song called “How Could You Leave Us” after her. His transparency and the emotion that he poured into the song left many fans speechless and caused some extremely powerful emotions to be felt even by listeners of the song.
“I got this picture in my room and it kills me /
But I don’t need a picture of my mom, I need the real thing /
Now a relationship is something we won’t ever have /
Why do I feel like I lost something that I never had?”
He manages to combine a unique lyrical story with his tragic backstory in such a way that allows his fans to connect on a very deep emotional level to the message that he is trying to communicate. This is arguably one of the marks of a great musician; can somebody truly combine their talent with their ability to communicate extremely complicated and deep emotional turmoil or joy in such a way that other people actually feel what they felt when they wrote the song? NF does just this in several of his songs.
NF’s Discography and Recognition
NF’s discography is not extremely extensive, but it does cover a wide range of emotional messages and does a good job rounding him out as an artist. He released his first album called Moments on his own (without a studio label) in 2010. The record featured thirteen tracks and the most popular was the headline single called “Escape”, which currently has just under six million listens on Spotify. After this was released, Nathan rebranded as NF and signed with Capitol CMG Label Group, releasing Mansion and Therapy Session in 2015 and 2016 respectively. By far his most popular album, Perception, was released with Capitol Records in 2017 and featured famous tracks such as “Let You Down”, “If You Want Love”, and “Lie”. “Let You Down” is by far his most popular song, with over eight hundred million listens on Spotify. His most recent album, The Search, was also released by Capitol Records and one of the most popular songs off that record is “Leave Me Alone”.
In some ways, NF represents the evolution of the rap community and rap music. His realness and his authenticity speak from his heart in a way that is rarely found in rap. Vulnerability is not idealized and finding artists who are willing to communicate the truth of their own weakness is something that really speaks to some people. Rap has become a more dominant genre than rock music since 2017, and in that vein it is important to realize that finding artists who communicate what they are really dealing with is valuable.
NF’s Unique Style
NF has combined a unique blend of rap lyrics and ballad pop singing to create a style of music that is almost unique to him. For example, on “Let You Down”, the intro is sung, then he alternates between sections of rap verse and lyrical pop verse to communicate his point. This further accentuates the shift in rap and hip hop towards an almost sing-song musical style that seems to be unique to the more modern artist.
Because of his unique sound and his cross between two different genres, NF has successfully drawn listeners from many walks of life. Because he has blended so many other vibes into his music, he is able to challenge the status quo that the music industry puts on rappers to create something completely his own
Influences from NF’s Faith
NF is a professed Christian, but claims that his music is not strictly Christian rap. “I’m a Christian, but I don’t make Christian music. You’re not going to reach everyone with just one point of view. I write about things I’m actually dealing with.” In a 2016 interview with Idolator, NF was asked if he considered himself to be a Christian rapper like Lecrae. He responded by saying, “Not at all. I mean, I’m a Christian, but I’m just an artist. I’m a musician. You know what I mean? To me, it’s like if you’re a Christian and you’re a plumber, are you a Christian plumber? I just make music.”
The themes he raps about are personal to him, but he avoids explicit language or themes as he does try to represent his faith to his audience without being overtly evangelical. He does not want to detract from the message he is trying to communicate by accidentally saturating his music with things he tries to avoid. His music is widely received by both Christians and non-Christians alike, and he believes that this gives him the widest platform from which to share what he believes with many.
NF is a very unique artist who has created a rather defined niche for himself within the music world. By combining a raw vulnerability with a genre that typically sticks to less vulnerable and more secular topics, NF has been able to communicate very clearly what he struggles with without alienating his listeners or making them feel like he is different from them, which enables him to create a closeness with his audience that is rare within modern music.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NF_(rapper) pens-s
- https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2019 yrics/let-you-down//august/chart-topping-rapper-nf-is-a-christian-but-dont-call-him-a-christian-rapper-are-you-a-christian-plumber