Perception is NF’s third studio album, and he has crafted it to relate to his previous albums Therapy Session and Mansion similar to how the third movie in a trilogy continues the story from the first two.
The album starts with “Intro III” featuring NF’s passionate vocal delivery and bold style, backed with an epic orchestral arrangement. It’s a perfect prologue for a new listener as NF reviews the themes found within his previous music and sets up the new album.
NF (aka Nate Feuerstein) is a 26-year-old rapper who grew up in a small town in Michigan. He had a challenging childhood: his parents divorced, his stepfather was abusive, and his mother died from a drug overdose. He uses his music as a form of therapy to work through intense emotions and strives to keep his music as “real” as possible for the listener.
Initially NF was signed to a Christian record label and marketed to Christians as a rapper who had the ability to passionately convey raw emotions and who had a style similar to Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly. However, NF’s music and themes are so relatable that Perception is receiving widespread mainstream recognition. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts; his song “Let You Down” has established itself on the Billboard’s Hot 100.
“Let You Down” explores NF’s experience of feeling that he has disappointed his father. It begins with a child singing a haunting chorus over a simple piano line. The piano and chorus melody form the foundation as NF tells a story that drips with regret, uncertainty, anger, disappointment, and sadness. Despite these strong negative emotions, NF doesn’t seem to spiral down into despair or lose perspective.
The following song, “Destiny,” is an aggressive track that shakes NF from his doubt and introspection and demonstrates his intense drive to fulfill his calling as a rapper. Despite previously expressing his sadness that he did not feel like he was enough around his father, he slips in the line “Pops told me he was proud, I don’t think he knew what that meant to me.”
The themes of NF’s life and music can be a powerful instrument to connect with other people who are hurting. His songs have proven to be particularly powerful with youth who identify with the frustration and anger that he expresses. NF strives to offer hope in difficult times, and many respond to his encouragement to move forward rather than letting those emotions consume them. Though it’s difficult to hear the pain and frustration, his music invites listeners to be empathetic towards others, acknowledging the pain rather than dismissing it or trying to fix it for others.
I highly recommend engaging with NF’s music, especially those who work with young people. While NF may create his music as a form of therapy for himself, he offers it to listeners with the hope that it might help them work through pain as well. (Capitol)