There’s Still ‘HOPE’ for NF in Music

NF’s new album “HOPE” explores mental health, faith and family, revealing the rapper’s most raw emotions.

Rapper Nate Feuerstein, known on-stage as NF, released his album “HOPE” April 7, bringing refreshing authenticity and raw vulnerability to his music. 

This is NF’s fifth studio album, having gained popularity through his song “Let You Down” which came out in 2017 and now has over 235 million views on YouTube

NF released 13 new songs with his Eminem-esque style of rap to “HOPE.” Although he doesn’t describe his music as Christian rap, his songs have appeared on Christian music charts. In his latest album, several songs including “LET ‘EM PRAY” and “HOPE” reference his faith. 

Similar to “The Search” from his 2019 album, “HOPE” exposes NF’s struggles with mental health, including anxiety and self-hatred.

“I was having a mental breakdown,” NF said in an interview with NME. “I was questioning my life. I was questioning everything.”

NF released the titular track “HOPE” Feb. 16. It’s a reflection of the 32-year-old rapper’s past and a declaration of the lessons he has learned.

“If I’d have never hit rock bottom / Would I be the person that I am today? I don’t believe so,” NF reflects.

In “MOTTO,” NF contemplates the choices throughout his music career, specifically discussing his success from focusing on authenticity rather than fame, and it’s easily one of the catchiest songs in his album.

“No nominations, but it’s cool though,” he raps.

His long-awaited album features rapper Cordae who makes an appearance in “CAREFUL” and the duo’s voices pair perfectly to make one of NF’s best collaborations. The third track talks about NF’s journey gaining wealth along with fame.

“Sharin’ the wealth, ain’t no point in me keepin’ this all to myself / I ain’t takin’ this money with me to my grave / Yeah, I might as well bless all the people I love,” NF raps.

The album’s fourth track “MAMA” is NF speaking directly to his mother, who died from an overdose when the rapper was 18. Despite the pain she put him and his siblings through, NF admits he loves her and hopes she was finally able to find peace.

Beyond his lyrics, NF’s artistic choices are intentional. In the song “Nate” from his 2019 album “The Search,” NF raps, “skip to track number four, now that’s a really sad one.” NF’s 2016 song “How Could You Leave Us,” like “MAMA,” addresses his mother’s death. Both songs are the fourth tracks of their respective albums, highlighting NF’s enduring emotional pain from his mother’s death.

Standout song “HAPPY” provides listeners with a song rich in meaning and emotion, reminding fans they aren’t alone in their mental health battles.

“Been this way so long it feels like something’s off when I’m not depressed,” NF confesses.

“HAPPY” clearly had its intended effect on fans, as YouTube comments on the song’s music video praise NF for his positivity with some listeners even claiming his music has been life-changing.

“PANDEMONIUM” and “SUFFICE” bring a more upbeat energy to the album. Rather than focusing on raw emotions, these songs address his haters. With a recently discovered sense of confidence, NF claims he won’t allow the people who don’t like him to have any power over him.

“The only person I allow to push me around is myself,” he declares in the sixth track of “HOPE.”

The tracks serve as revenge for those who haven’t supported him, showing them that his music career is flourishing.

“GONE,” which features singer-songwriter Julia Michaels, is one of the slower songs on his album and one of the only songs to talk about romantic relationships, reminiscing about a relationship from his youth. 

While NF’s voice shines through in “GONE,” awkward pauses within the song disrupt its flow. Despite this, “GONE” can easily be played on repeat because of NF and Michaels’ beautiful vocals.

The album’s next song “BULLET” continues the rapper’s romantic mood. He addresses his wife, Bridgette, saying he’d sacrifice his life for her. The couple got married in 2018 and welcomed their first child in 2021.

The following track “TURN MY BACK” addresses NF’s nonconformity in the music industry. Instead of having a label breathing down his back and listeners telling him to switch his style, NF says they can worry about themselves rather than criticizing him.

“I don’t need the label breathin’ down my neck / I don’t need the venue tellin’ me it’s loud,” he cries in the tenth track of “HOPE.”

Unfortunately, the next track button is a must for this song because the repetitive beat of the tenth track becomes jaded before hitting two minutes.

As one of his slowest songs in the album, “MISTAKE” reveals NF’s darkest thoughts about himself. He admits some days he feels like he doesn’t deserve love, pleading for others not to view him as a mistake.

“RUNNING,” the album’s final track, begins with slow guitar strumming. In this song, he poetically ties his album together, incorporating elements of heartbreak, fame and mental health into one song.

As one of NF’s best albums, “HOPE” shows his growth as an artist and person. Older albums including “Therapy Session” and “Perception” bring listeners into a dark time of NF’s life, but as the title indicates, “HOPE” brings much more confidence and positivity to his music.

NF’s global “HOPE” tour begins July 12 and the artist will be coming to Rosemont, Illinois July 14 for a concert at the Allstate Arena.
“HOPE” is available to stream on all major platforms.

Featured image courtesy of NF Real Music LLC.

Sophia Robertson

Sophia Robertson