NF – HOPE | Ben’s Beat – Music Reviews


Graduating to stadium status with the latest tour behind his fifth studio album, the Michigan NF rapper has certainly come a long way since his beginnings as an explicitly Christian rapper and attracted a dedicated fanbase who now has sent his last three projects to the top of the charts. 2021 Clouds (The Mixtape) it might have been the best showcase yet of his impressive technical skills and natural storyteller’s dramatic flair, but for the most part, much of NF’s perception as a rapper for people who don’t like rap has remained. hear HOPE Again, it reveals that while NF certainly has a strong skill toolkit, the main thing holding it back from crossing over to a broader demographic might be its lack, for lack of a better word, of a shame filter. Clearly heavily inspired by Eminem as he stretches his voice to its most emphatic limits over the orchestral beats (though not quite so inspired when it comes to the language and messages on display), when the beats aren’t up to snuff, NF comes across as a preacher. shouting inspirational clichés you’ve already heard with as much seriousness as possible.

The titular opening track “HOPE” opens with NF giving us a taste of a surprisingly soulful singing voice, which comes up a couple more times throughout the album and is often much more enjoyable to listen to than his rapping. it flows when they are at their most melodramatic and shrill. Singing about her lost soul and her 30th birthday revelations as the strings heat up in a distorted whirlwind, she breaks into a rap verse over a musical theater-style bouncy piano about dreaming big and never giving up. . In fact, he interrupts a lengthy verse about all the times he messed up and didn’t believe in himself with “you get it,” which then sets up one of the most engaging beats with more trap flavor and some more impressive flows. He wishes he was just as self-aware on other parts of the album, because for the most part what NF says doesn’t really seem groundbreaking or interesting enough to warrant all the instrumental fanfare. The next track, “LEMA,” which lingers with more abrasive screaming flows into NF’s nasal tones, even finds him undercutting his uplifting energy with an oddly mean-spirited jab, choosing “unemployed” as his insult to detractors. of him before wishing physics. damage on them. The track is supposed to be a DIY anthem, as NF celebrates building an empire from his bedroom and doesn’t ask for anyone’s advice; some of them might have been necessary in this case.

“CAREFUL” invites Cordae onto the track, and even an average rapper with a rapper fanbase sounds great and charismatic by comparison when placed in NF’s epic soundscapes. Still, NF shows off some nice triplet flows over a catchy, breathy-vocals beat and goes on to show that he has the instinct to make something feel grand and important; he just needs to back that up by saying more important things. It’s something he does a lot more when he touches on something more personal and specific to him in a song like “MAMA”. Despite one of the messier choruses, NF delivers a moving performance over sparse piano as he forgives his late mother and acknowledges the troubles and abuse she faced. “HAPPY,” on the other hand, returns to the classic millennial-pop surface-level song about depression you’ve heard a million times before. It sounds like a Twenty One Pilots song on one of their weaker days of writing with an Ed Sheeran guitar loop. And while NF brings his singing back to the dance floor, he saves his best rap performance for the next one, “PANDEMONIUM.” If there’s one thing you can say about NF, it’s that he’s certainly not one of those rappers that you just tune out listening to. Launching into performance with some pretty impressive extended rhyme schemes, yes, it’s a bit extra, but for an overzealous Eminem fan, you could do a lot worse.

Many of the more standard trap bangers and flex tracks are released in the back half of the album. Both “TURN MY BACK” and “SUFFICE” don’t have much going for them that you can’t find on another rapper’s album, especially when NF incorrectly brags about being the “real” one and not the “fake knockoff.” ” ” – but “SUFFICE” actually contains a brief change of pace at the end that makes it the album’s most exciting minute. With some fun vocal pitches and some of the album’s slicker flow, NF talks about knowing he’s found his purpose. The change of pace on “GONE” doesn’t work as well; in fact, I had to legitimately check my phone because I thought I had accidentally skipped to the next song. Ridiculously alternating between massive percussion explosions and the most elegant piano notes, NF details a sentimental breakup song and offers nothing beyond what anyone in the world would say, though Julia Michaels sounds lovely as ever during every lead verse. “BULLET”, in true NF fashion, finds him taking something with potential a little too far when he describes dying for his wife in strangely violent and detailed fashion in the midst of heartfelt dedication.

There is not much else to highlight near the conclusion of the project; For example, why does it seem like every artist who has ever made an inspirational or uplifting song that didn’t feel like it came from a genuine place has recently made a song where they ask? shouldn’t it be called an error? Seems like there’s been one a month lately. NF’s, titled, of course, “MISTAKE”, adds to the trend on very sparse piano and strings. One last snare cut on “PRAY FOR ME” continues to test NF’s message patience, before “RUNNING” brings things to a close when NF sings a few notes about leaving her dark side in the past.

Judging by everything he says on this album, it doesn’t seem like NF is too open to any kind of constructive feedback or criticism; after all, he’s been doing what he’s been doing for a while and it only keeps growing. While there’s less hope that he’ll put out something that makes better use of his talents, it’s likely he’ll stick around.


Least Favorite Track: ERROR

Score: 4/10


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