Whoa. Who are you and where’d you come from? Blown away by this rapper’s talent for rap and for daring to write music that is so personal.
First off, I was surprised to discover that NF (short for Nathan John Feuerstein) is signed to a Christian music label (Capitol Christian Music Group) because his lyrics and video concepts are VERY dark. (Same label as Chris Tomlin, Jesus Culture and more).
NF’s music is unhappy– the real broke kind where your soul is literally down in the pits, and his music is an invitation to the chaos, anger and hopelessness inside his mind and his music videos show how real his pain and anger is.
(Photos from here)
I found his music in a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) playlist and I had to scroll through the playlist several more times because I was taken back by his dark lyrics. Did someone accidentally include this rapper in this CCM playlist? It was included in a playlist with worship songs and to be honest, I was a little creeped out watching his video, ‘Green Lights.’ Actually, a lot of his videos creeped me out, especially the scenes with the people wearing white masks with the blank stares. His music is angry and the overlying theme for every track is a guy who is hopeless, depressed, broken, and in a lot of pain.
His music isn’t your typical Christian feel good, the kind that glimmers of hope and victory in Jesus. Yes, we’ve got notable Christian rappers like Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Tripp Lee and more who also deliver real talk, but there’s usually context that points to faith. Jesus. Victory. Hope.
I wanted to share NF’s music because as I explored all of his music, I felt compassion for him. Lyrically, a lot of NF’s music isn’t gospel-centered but pain-centered. His writing comes from a place of anger and deep hopelessness. His pain and anger is real, and you can feel his wounds by the way he delivers his music.
Because I’ve never seen him in concert live and what I know of him is only through his music, I was confused as to why a Christian label signed him; the way I see the Christian music market is so that the music points to the gospel and faith. Him reaching out to a Christian label must mean faith is still important to him and that is the platform he wants to be represented by. And I trust that God will move in His life and music.
NF’s personal message at the 4:30 mark: (please refrain from watching if sensitive to cutting)
“…I think sometimes people get confused at what I’m doing. I write about life, about things I’m actually dealing with. Something that I’m actually experiencing. This is real for me. Like this is something that personally helps me as well. I’m not confused about who gave me the gift-God gave me the gift and he gave me the ability to do this and he also gave me this as an outlet. And that’s what music is for me. When I feel something, whether it’s anger it’s a passion for something, a frustration, like this is where I go. That’s the whole NF music thing. This is real for me. I need this. This is therapy for me.”
I appreciate NF’s vulnerability to expose his broken self (aren’t we all to some capacity?). His pain, rejection, anger and grief in loss can all be felt in an uncomfortable but real and personal way for many, and his music seems to be reaching tons of people who are also going through similar things. His album, Therapy Session takes listeners on a journey of real life events and coping for survival and finding therapy through his writing. NF’s music is appreciated by many who also deal with real life issues, like dealing with a parent’s suicide, physical abuse, and more, and I suggest you avoid listening to his music if you are currently harboring a lot of emotional pain; it might bring triggers or bring your spirit down. Music does that, it has this power to influence and sway your emotions.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
His song, ‘Can You Hold Me,’ featuring Britt Nicole is a piano-driven ballad track, a song of desperation from hopelessness, and a cry out to God for his embrace. I have felt this very pain so many times in the past, and I can relate to what he must have been going through when writing this, crying out in desperation for God’s embrace. I think that a lot of us have experienced this, but know that we are wired to be resilient and endure pain and suffering.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. –Isaiah 43:2
I have high hopes for NF. And because I’m a gold digger. What I mean by this, is that I recognize his gold-his gift for music and writing. NF isn’t afraid of writing about real life issues and the things he is personally coping with, and because of his transparency, his music has a huge cult-like following of people who connect with his music. I wanted to share his music because he’s got an incredible gift for writing and music and I look forward to more of his music. Christians aren’t perfect. We’re imperfect and flawless folks who are on an ongoing process of surrendering our brokenness and doing our best to remember to lean on Jesus to find our way through the chaos and noise in life. So NF, thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey. Vulnerability is uncomfortable and doesn’t come easy to most people, so thank you for using your platform and allowing others who struggle connect with your music. I really look forward to hearing more music on healing and songs of victory and breakthrough. It’s going to be life changing. After all, when rapping in the anointing of God’s presence and truth, rappers are like modern day prophets 🙂 So Mr. NF, I’m rooting for you and for greater victory and freedom in your life, and the amazing new music that will be produced from that. You have incredible talent in rapping and writing from the core, and I’m hopeful for the way you write from a place of joy and having experienced hope.
Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17
(If you’re unfamiliar with that bible verse above, feel free to explore the whole passage and who and what God is) 🙂
Extra resources for those that are struggling and desperate. You’re not alone.
Sermons from my home church in Seoul, Korea that I hope will bless you 🙂
And here’s a little something positive to leave with. It’s been my jam on repeat for a while now 🙂 Mmmmm! Yours truly, Lecrae and Tori Kelly.
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