NF: Giving Rap Back Its Soul

NF is an up-and-coming rapper with an ability to sling it straight from the soul. His newest album, "Therapy Session," is his most transparent yet.

I’m always on the lookout for new artists, and by some odd stroke of luck, when I was listening to Yelawolf, iTunes brought up NF as another selection I might enjoy. I’ve been hooked ever since. For only being twenty-five, NF (or Nathan Feuerstein, to use his proper name) raps as well if not better than many seasoned rap veterans. Though NF is touted as one of the best Christian artists out there, any fan of the genre can definitely get into his songs.

“I don’t know what a Christian rapper is,” says NF. “I’m just an artist who makes music for everybody.”

Like me, NF is a big fan of Eminem, and there’s no denying their similarities — indeed, when I caught his show recently at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, N.C., there was even a physical resemblance.

However, NF surpasses his larger-than-life predecessor in that he doesn’t heavily rely on catchy hooks or shock value. Instead, he creates hauntingly beautiful lyrics that stay with you long after listening.

Case in point: a surprisingly philosophical musing on death and the soul off of his new album “Therapy Session.” “When I die,” raps NF on “Oh Lord,” “put my ashes in the trash bag, I don’t care where they go. Don’t waste your money on my gravestone, I’m more concerned about my soul. Everybody’s gonna die, but don’t everybody live though.” 

Many of NF’s songs deal with common hardships that life throws at all of us; but he also creates extremely insightful and moving tracks such as “How Could You Leave Us,” in which he talks openly about his mother’s death from a drug overdose. This tragedy clearly had a deep and lasting effect on NF — even at the live performance I attended, he tearfully talked to his mother’s picture, allowing the audience to connect with the loss on an intimate level.

“Therapy Session,” his latest album, is his most transparent yet. Typical topics like thwarted love are predictably present on tracks such as “I Just Wanna Know,” but NF manages to handle the theme with the same tight stylized flare for which he’s known.

Tracks like the eponymous “Therapy Session” serve to show that NF has come to throw open the closet doors of a generation plagued with affluenza, parental neglect, and apathy to clean out all the skeletons. He gives voice to pain that’s been waiting a long time to be heard.

If you’re looking for feel good, dance hook, club music, NF is not necessarily your guy; but if you’re looking for music that ignites the fire you have for life and the passions that drive you, a soundtrack for running the race you have to run, then look no further.

Written By
Suzanne Crain Miller is a screenwriter, poet, novelist, teacher, reporter and music blogger who resides in Raleigh, N.C. She lives with her husband,...
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