NF, Perception | Album Review
Nate Feuerstein – better known as NF – delivers a fine third studio album with ‘Perception.’ The messages are meaningful, prudent, and authentic.
Question: What makes Christian rap Christian rap? Does it require explicitly spreading the gospel, or does it mean the music is simply devoid of secular things? Honestly, it depends on who you ask and the rapper himself. NF is considered to be a Christian rapper. He doesn’t curse and eschews un-Christian subject matter. Nonetheless, Nate Feuerstein isn’t boring or the least bit square. No, he isn’t rapping scripture, but, what he does spit throughout the course of his third album, Perception, is meaningful, prudent, and authentic.
There are few better ways to kick off an album than “Intro III” does on Perception. “Intro III” commences the album intensely and dramatically. NF has a conversation with himself essentially, rather, his fears. It’s a personal record, one lengthy, intricate verse, that showcases the rapper’s lyrical skills, as well as showcases a mad flow.
I saved intro 3 for the album… its one of the best songs I feel like I’ve ever written.
— NF (@nfrealmusic) August 27, 2017
Following up a gem like “Intro III” is an elephantine task. Given the artistry of NF, he has no problems dropping more heat with “Outcast.” Once more, he’s honest about where he stands, particularly socially.
“I make songs, I don’t make friends, judge me… / I like space, I don’t fit in the crowds… / I never been married, but I’ve felt divorced.”
He sums up his feelings and experiences simply, but effectively on the chorus: “I’ll just be the outcast.”
“10 Feet Down”
“10 Feet Down” keeps Perception going strong, enlisting Ruelle for the assist. “10 Feet Down” continues the reflective nature of the album, with NF in full-on, introspective mode. He starts by examining “the man in the mirror,” citing his shortcomings, but essentially plans a meaningful ascent. This is clarified in the second verse, where he’s critical of the process to attain fame and essentially, forgetting the purpose and from whence we came.
“Green Lights” continues the excellent production work that characterizes Perception. While the label Christian rap is given, the hard and malicious sounds make you rethink the definition of the style. NF flexes, exhibiting his excellent flow, and showcasing the utmost confidence and swagger. Notably, he does so sans salty language. The hook is fire.
“All I see is green lights / All I see is green lights / All I spit is real life / Bet you don’t know what that’s like.”
After the triumphant “Green Lights,” he’s a bit down on “Dreams.” His job keeps him busy, and to some extent, he feels as if he’s lost him – his identity. On the third verse, he seems to reminisce back on a relationship, and he regrets being neglectful (“I know I’ve been distant, you know I never meant that”).
“Let You Down”
“Let You Down” gives NF another deep record, focusing on his relationship with his father. Musically, it’s sharp, thanks to pitch-shifted, effects laden vocals, hard drums, piano block chords, strings, and ample reverb. An excellent harmonic progression and sound accompanies the intro, foreshadowing what’s to come. He continues his superb flow, flaunting immense rap skills. The vocals on the chorus are strong, while the chorus itself is catchy, yet meaningful.
“Destiny” is a banger. Hard-nosed lyrically and hard-nosed musically, NF is on autopilot from the jump. Honestly, the only thing that separates this from traditional rap bangers is eschewal of the most secular things. Otherwise, the lines are incredibly blurred, and NF has mad ambition. “Woo!” “My Life” seems like a fitting follow-up to “Destiny.” Focusing on himself on “Destiny,” NF returns to his family and their respective issues on “My Life.”
Keeping the sequence thoughtful, “You’re Special” switches from tough love to romantic love. The authenticity of the love that NF shows to his girlfriend is awesome. While it runs a bit long, you can’t knock him for his dedication and giving the same feels he’s feeling to the listener. Keeping love at the forefront, on the thoughtful “If You Want Love,” he focuses on how difficult love is from all angles. The prudence of the record is best exhibited on the chorus:
“If you want love, you gon’ have to go through the pain / If you want love, you gon’ have to learn how to change / If you want trust, you gon’ have to give some away / If you want love, if you want love.”
“Remember This” focuses on maturity – grinding hard in a number of respects. Once again, NF focuses on immersing himself in his music, following up an earlier reference in “Outcast.” At the same time, he seems to acknowledge that he (and people in general) can’t mask their problems and shortcomings. He has his music to help, but he continues to be a ‘work in progress’:
“I’ve always had a problem with relationships / But that’s what happens when you see the world through a broken lens / Mistakes can make you grow, that doesn’t mean you’re friends / Who you are is up to you, don’t leave it up to them, no.”
“Know” shares similarities with the likes of “Green Lights,” “Destiny,” and later “One Hundred.” NF is charged up, particularly on the hook. This is confidence with the flow and rhymes to back it up. On “Lie,” love, specifically a relationship returns to the forefront. Unlike “You’re Special,” however, one member of the said relationship seems to be skeptical to others, yet continues to be a participant. “3 A.M.” is a fitting companion piece, bringing NF’s relationship issues to light once more.
Maybe somewhat predictably, yet timely, “One Hundred” ends up being a banger. It follows more emotional, personal numbers, giving Perception more bite. “Outro,” the second single from the project, concludes soundly. Dark from the jump, the production work is enigmatic, fiery, and impactful. Beyond the agility of his flow and an aggressive sound, the rhymes themselves are biting, chocked-full of emotion and passion. NF continues to be real – authentic to the nth degree.
All in all, NF delivers a great album with Perception. It’s deep, emotional, and well-rounded from start to finish. Nate Feuerstein gives us a glimpse of his world, where he came from, his current status, and what he needs to do to become even better. Perhaps he considers himself to be a rapper who is a Christian as opposed to a Christian rapper, but he definitely has ample meaningful, prudent messages to offer.
Gems: “Intro III,” “Outcasts,” “Green Lights,” “Let You Down,” “Destiny,” “Know” & “Outro”