Recently married, Christian rapper NF (aka Nate Feuerstein) returns with the debut single, “The Search,” from his upcoming fourth album.
Laced with powerful lyrics and stunning imagery, this song (along with its video) checks in on Nate’s mental state as he personally assesses difficult moments while pushing for hope.
What Are You Searching For?
We’re all looking for something, and NF admits that his ultimate search is to find hope in the midst of hard times.
In a conversation with himself about his mental frame of mind, Nate’s inner voice asks: "Hey Nate, how's life?" To which he responds: "I don't know, it's alright.” Then he adds, “I've been dealin' with some things like every human being/And really didn't sleep much last night.”
Those struggles include a lack of solitude amid a busy season (“I just think I need a little me time/I just think I need a little free time/Little break from the shows and the bus rides) as well as depression (“Last year I had a breakdown/Thoughts tellin' me I'm lost, gettin' too loud/Had to see a therapist and I found out/Somethin' funny's going on up in my house”).
Not to mention anxiety (“I get scared when I walk on these stages/That's when I start to get anxious/That's when my thoughts can be dangerous/That's when I put on my makeup and drown in self-hatred”). And all of that hasn't left him in a great place physically, either: “Yeah, the sales can rise/Doesn't mean much though when your health declines."
On a more serious note, NF also seems to imply that perhaps he's been tempted to take his own life at certain dark moments in the past: "Somethin' funny's goin' on up in my house [his mind]/Yeah, started thinkin' maybe I should move out/You know, pack my cart, take a new route/Clean up my yard, get the noose out/Hang up my heart, let it air out."
(Nate also paints a graphic picture elsewhere when he talks about the toxicity of celebrity: "Got a taste of fame, had to pump my stomach/throw it back up like I don't want it/Wipe my face, clean off my vomit.")
Now, if that's where this song ended, we'd be in dark territory indeed. But from that honest confession, NF turns a healthy corner on his journey toward hope.
Bouncing Off Rock Bottom
Recognizing that admission is pretty grim, Nate's inner voice asks him, "What does that mean, Nate?" And so begins a rapid-fire lyrical trip to a better place. Nate says, "Grabbin' my keepsakes, leavin' my burdens." He admits, "I'm not perfect" and realizes that some "things might hurt me." Still, he's in it for the long haul: "It's prolly gonna be a long journey, but hey/It's worth it though."
He also says, "See, we've all got somethin' that we trap inside/That we try to suffocate, you know, hopin' that it dies/ … Then it comes up out of nowhere like an evil surprise." Then he adds (perhaps sarcastically), "You don't relate to that? Must not be as crazy as I am."
Still, NF says he's begun to recognize that the mind “is a powerful place” and what he “feeds it” greatly affects him: “Just think about it for a second, if you look at your face/Every day when you get up and think you'll never be great/You'll never be great—not because you're not, but the hate/Will always find a way to cut you up and murder your faith.”
A Little Thing Called Hope
If you’ve stumbled upon any of NF’s videos since his first projects, you’ll see similar themes in most of them. And in this particular video, NF continues to wear black as he pushes around a shopping cart with black balloons tied to it.
The cart-balloon combo represents the personal burdens that Nate carries around. Throughout the song, he releases his “balloons” to people clad in white (apparently representing hope and love) but he can’t seem to get rid of them all. In end, he crawls into his cart and is given a white suit (hope) to take the place of his black attire (despair).
Both the lyrics and video make this a powerful song indeed as we watch and listen to someone striving to move toward freedom. Admittedly, the raw struggles on display here need to be treated with wisdom and caution by families with younger fans. Some parents might see NF's songs as aggressive or angry, and some are (especially given his childhood and background).
But unlike many other musicians today, NF's brokenness isn't the final destination, but the starting point. Nate's honest about his deep hurts, but he doesn't want to remain trapped in them or give in to darker temptations.
And so the song from this Christian rapper concludes in a much brighter place than where it started: "It's that time again/Better grab your balloons and invite your friends/Seatbelts back on, yeah, stram 'em in/Look at me, everybody, I'm smiling big/ … The search begins, I'm back, so enjoy the trip."