Who is NF? The brand-new, unforeseen, chart-topping artist that has the CLN team hooked
By Lela S.
Check him out on Spotify here
If you know me personally, you wouldn’t be reading this article, since you’re completely and utterly fed up with me talking about a mysterious rapper who often dresses in all black, usually in a hoodie, sweatpants, and a REAL baseball cap, who carries a bunch of black balloons around, who wears weird black face paint on his mouth (lipstick…?) and who goes by the name of NF. Still reading? Good, because I’m writing an article about THE ONE AND ONLY NF, so be prepared.
Born in 1991 in Gladwin, Michigan, NF is the stage name of rapper and composer Nathan John Feuerstein, whose raw emotions and outstanding lyrics broke the internet when he independently released his debut album, Moments, in 2010. All over the internet, he’s identified as a Christian rapper: he mentions God and other similar terms in his songs. As well as that, even while he's rapping about suicidal feelings or how messed up his life and the world are, NF never curses or talks about violence. Although he has blanched at the label, he was the first hip-hop artist ever signed to Capitol CMG, Universal's Christian sub-label in 2014, where he's still signed.
NF has a wife, Bridgette Feuerstein, who’s a fitness trainer and creator of the blog Halfway Hippie. He’s written quite a few songs about her, notably Got You On My Mind. He also has a son named Beckham who was born in August 2021.
Following his debut album Moments, which is unfortunately not present on Spotify, he dropped Mansion in early 2015, reaching number 62 on the Billboard 200 and topping the Christian chart. The album deals with NF's personal struggles through past and present circumstances and is extremely raw emotionally. The lyrics are descriptive, aggressive, and poetic all at once; for example, in the title track, featuring Fleurie, he raps about each of the rooms in his “mansion”, which left me speechless after my first listen.
His second album, Therapy Session, is a strong step forward and delves into even darker themes than the first, which is highlighted in the title track as well as How Could You Leave Us, among many others. The album is comprised by aggressive, intensely personal songs about his traumatic upbringing, which included being abused by his mother's boyfriend and his mother's overdose. As a kid, music was his escape from his hardships, and he began recording songs on a karaoke machine, with instrumentals on one microphone and his raps in the other. Both Mansion and Therapy Session combined, slowly but surely constructed a strong and faithful fanbase, preparing for his following album, Perception, which would be his first #1 album on the Billboard Top 200.
When his hird album was released in September 2017, the world exploded. Well, not literally, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it did. Skyrocketing to the top spot on the Billboard Top 200 NF’s album Perception broke the internet. Notably, the single Let You Down peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Pop Songs chart. Later, it would hit ONE WHOLE BILLION streams on Spotify (go Nate!). In the song, NF addresses his father, who raised him as a child, and how he didn’t want to disappoint him.
Then came The Search, which expresses the hard quest NF has been on lately in his life using rapid-fire lyrics and catchy beats. He spends most of his time delivering heartfelt insight into his struggles with mental health – specifically his depression. Again, the album topped the charts, beating Chance the Rapper, Billie Eilish, and Ed Sheeran, among others. The lyrics are funny, thoughtful, and dark all at once, making the album extremely controversial but still really good.
In 2021, he launched a mixtape: CLOUDS. Here, he raps at LIGHTNING SPEED (his all-time fastest rap appears on THAT’S A JOKE, 9.7 syllables per second; put into perspective, 0.1 SPS more than Rap God by Eminem). He utilizes sounds that produce shadowy, hazy imagery – almost as if NF is summoning a storm with his words.
Indeed, the tracks on the album are very intense and well thought-out. When NF raps, he goes all out, and that’s highlighted in this album. Each track on this mixtape is an absolute masterpiece: from the title track, which talks about himself in an amusing and inspiring fashion, to PAID MY DUES at the end, in which the music video is just - you know what, look at the YouTube thumbnail, that should give you an idea. The album contains features from two talented artists: Tech N9ne on TRUST, a fast rap with a good message, as well as Hopsin on LOST, a thoughtful and relatable song. There are some chiller tunes, such as PRIDEFUL and DRIFTING (though the latter has a super-fast rap verse at the end). THAT’S A JOKE is a crowd favorite, putting a clever spin on the well-known proverb “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. JUST LIKE YOU is both depressing and reassuring, making it one of my favorites on the mixtape (then again, all of the songs are my favorites on the mixtape). And, of course, the song that no one can forget… STORY, which, as the name states, is the perfect bedtime story (the music video is AMAZING).
In conclusion, it’s impossible to deny the fact that NF is the best rapper alive. Thank you for reading this article, and please take a listen! I promise you, it will be the best decision of your entire life. :)