Review: NF — Perception

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 at 3:21 PM
Review: NF — Perception by Macala Leigey

                                                                                Rating: ★★★★★

Real music.

That’s the brand, the motivation and quite noticeably, the theme of each album Christian hip-hop/rap artist NF produces, with his latest album, “Perception” being no exception to that brand.

Digging deeper into the intricate mind of Michigan native Nate Feuerstein, or more commonly known as NF, “Perception,” released Oct. 6, puts listeners in the middle of NF’s inner battle with his own fear and every hauntingly beautiful calamity the artist has experienced.

Coming from a rocky childhood — abuse and his mother’s suicide, as cited in past songs — NF digs to the depths of his former life and injects painfully raw emotion into each song he uniquely crafts.

Following the pattern of his past albums, “Mansion” (2015) and “Therapy Session” (2016), NF leads his 2017 album with an intro track — “Intro III” — which sets the tone for the entire album by enthralling the listener into the warfare inside his mind.

An intense orchestra ensemble hums in the background of the album’s first track, metaphorically implying to the listener that the show is about to begin. As the symphony is hushed, a simplistic piano melody takes its place and serves as the backdrop to NF’s inner battle.

Passionate lyrics, such as “You had me scared for a second/I thought we were digging my grave” and “What’s the point of havin’ love with no pain,” overlap the building symphonic tune and easily make “Intro III” one of the most well-crafted songs on the album.

The album carries the mix of instrumentals and harmonies over to the album’s second track, “Outcast,” but picks up speed with an added heartbeat of bass and a faster laying of lyrics. As the track’s title implies, NF goes on a nearly six-minute tirade of being an outsider, singing “I’ll just be the outcast.”

Throughout the 16-track album, NF consistently conveys his outlook, or “perception” rather, of three main themes: fear, his career and love — pulling from his own personal life situations and opening himself up to his fans through satisfyingly harsh lyrics.

The third, fourth and seventh tracks – “10 Feet Down,” “Green Lights” and “Destiny” — all share a parallel on NF’s outlook on his career as a rapper. These tracks give off, though limited on the album, an upbeat vibe and showcase NF’s confidence in his future as a rapper.

The rising artist also includes a handful of songs on the album that hints at a broken relationship and his struggle with love — if you want your heart torn out, give “If You Want Love” or “3 A.M.” a listen, they’ll do the trick.

However, the love-centered track that is receiving the most attention, and also shaping NF’s reputation in the music industry, is “Let You Down.” The track was released weeks before the album dropped and quickly worked its way to mainstream airwaves, including a place on Spotify’s “Today’s Hits” playlist.

Utilizing droning synths and a consistent beat, the song instantly grabs the listener’s attention with a piercing, apologetic voice singing, “I wish that I could say I’m proud, I’m sorry that I let you down.” Placed as the sixth track on the album, “Let You Down” shows a rawness of emotion, with NF recognizing his assumed faults and apologizing for past mistakes.

The album wraps up with the appropriately tilted track, “Outro.” Matching the pattern of “Intro III,” the last song of the album builds with a mix of string instrumentals and intense vocal harmonization, while highlighting NF’s voice rapidly firing the complex lyrics. Throwing references to past songs and reiterating his struggles to succeed, the final track ends with a victorious, and suitable, “I’m home.”

Proving to be NF’s best album yet, “Perception” has scored the upcoming rapper his first number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. By pouring real emotion into each song, “Perception” is creatively deep enough to push NF from unknown crossover rapper to one of the lead rappers in the game. Each track reveals more of the artist and hits listeners with beautifully harsh lyrics, rightfully branding it as “real music.”

 Standout tracks: "Let You Down," Intro III" and "Outkast"

Stream "Perception" below: 

Macala Leigey is a managing editor (print) for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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