Honesty seems to be disappearing from much of our society as a whole. Even in the Body of Christ it seems that facade is a mask that we can all wear as we come together. The truth is that we all face insecurity whether we admit it or not. It takes our vulnerability to not only receive help but to give it too. NF takes this principle and applies it in the most beautiful way I’ve seen it done by an artist. One thing we’ve seen from his previous EP is that he is a fighter, and we get to see the battle of NF’s mind on a whole new level as we are invited to visit his Mansion.
As we enter the gate in the front yard NF “Intro”duces himself. If you’ve never heard music before, this track will catch you up as probably one of the best first impressions of him you could have. We begin to see how driven he is as he lyrically obliterates this track with a taste of his passion for music that we’ve seen before. We also get to hear the beginning of the story he tells of how he got here and the opposition he has faced. We get to the end of the path as we approach the front door and realize that this house just might catch fire.
As we walk into the entryway of this “Mansion,” Fleurie sets the haunting theme for our tour through the mind of NF. We go from room to room as he opens up about the anger and fear he deals with because of things that have happened when he was younger. Pain expressed through written words on the walls from being physically abused and the loss of his mother help us to see his humanity which has led to his lack of trust in others. This song was probably one of the most intense to write, and it can be a help to encourage those who are facing fear or anger that you can use it to create something positive. Finishing our tour takes us to the living room where we will see there is more to NF than we’ve seen so far!
He continues to increase expectations by bringing one of his fire starters with “All I Have.” One of the first singles from his self-titled EP, it picks up where his “Intro” leaves off. We are reminded of his passion of music, his passion for Christ, and his grind against the odds. For NF it’s more than just a hobby by letting us know “It’s hip-hop in my veins! If you cut me I’m gonna bleed this.” As I’ve said before, “There is so much encouragement in this track for those who have a dream from God and want to quit. NF gives a great balance of grinding hard and continuing to dream. It’s all he is. It’s all he has.”
He talks about the struggle of trying to have a relationship in the midst of being an artist in his track “Wait,” from recording to touring, going back and forth as a relationship grows and changes. For those who are walking in relationships with a significant other, we can always be encouraged that we all face challenges that require sacrifice that NF talks about. Some of us have even felt that desperation of “Wait…Don’t leave me!”
“Wake Up” and “Face It” are perfectly placed together on this journey with NF. We first get paid a reality check with “Wake Up” that there is more to life than pursuing possessions and comparing ourselves to others. The musical elements from this track start softly and hit hard on the chorus with an emphasis to WAKE UP! Once we are awake, it’s time to begin the process of change, which is what “Face It” is all about. Sometimes life is confusing and we don’t need to run or hide. We need to face it. NF speaks to us about the doubts he has in this process and how it’s his decision to change. This track has more of a pop feel to it and the chorus is easy to catch.
If you begin to doubt NF’s skill as a lyricist at this point because things have slowed down, we are just starting the second half! In the vein of “Throw Your Hands Up,” NF shows us just how “Motivated” he is as he drops a banger worth blasting with the windows down. Metaphors fly along with punchlines in an explosion of musical heat that will make your furnace seem cold. Are you motivated? Put this track on repeat and watch it rise!
You probably didn’t know that NF’s best friend is a “Notepad” which is what his next track is all about. He tells us about how his notepad has been there through his growth as an artist and rapper. No judgment and always there regardless if the output was good or bad. This is sort of a tribute song that lets us peek into some of NF’s creative side.
Sometimes you need a good song to dance to and there’s no better song to “Turn The Music Up” to than the next track! Lyrics fly as the beat pounds through the speakers on your sound system. If there was ever a doubt that NF can bring the jam home, it has been destroyed. This dance beat can fill a fitness class, a club, or while you are jammin’ out in your living room (when you think no one sees you). Don’t stop now. “You must be out your mind. Turn the Music Up!”
“Paralyzed” gives us another look at the musical abilities of NF as we get to hear him sing about what it feels like to feel lost, numb, and without direction. The soft piano on this track really brings the theme of this song home for me personally. For those who deal with depression, doubt, and emotional insecurity who feel paralyzed, be encouraged. You are not alone.
As we come to the end of this conversation with NF, Jeremiah Carlson and Britt Nicole join us to help him finish this part of his story.
Even though his soul is tired, we can see from NF that his thought process is “I’ll Keep On.” Jeremiah sets an acoustic tone for this track as NF expresses his desire to truly seek Christ and admits his shortcomings in that pursuit. His heart’s cry for the fullness of what Christ has is refreshing as I believe we begin to see some of the walls inside his mansion begin to weaken. Personally, his humility and willingness to continue brings so much encouragement. We all have room for our faith to grow and NF’s desire inspires me to be all in! Let’s all keep on!
If there is one thing that NF naturally displays is his passion mixed with the vulnerability that is shown as he reveals his desperation for Christ with Britt Nicole as they cry out “Can You Hold Me?” When you are alone…When you are afraid…When you are depressed…When you need His embrace… This final conversation that we have as we prepare to leave NF’s ‘Mansion’ is full of soft piano melodies and epic orchestration. Let that be our heart’s cry! When all seems dark…He is there.
This album is full of depth and not one track is lacking or wasted! If this is the quality and excellence we can come to expect from NF (and I believe it is!), then as I continue to soak in these tracks, I will eagerly await the next chapter.
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