Symbolism played a major role in NF’s eye-popping introduction at a sold out House Of Blues during the first of what was slated to be a two-night stand (though the second was suddenly canceled due to illness). Rather than charging out to the brooding beats of “Outcast,” the rapper sat locked inside a jail-like cage similar to the cover of his “Perception” project, racing through lines of rejection and opposition before bursting out of the cell with the resolve to be unflinchingly honest about his multitude of struggles.
Along with a live drummer and a playback of its electronic elements, “Let You Down” was by the far the most universally recognized moment, but also amongst the most powerful statements as the video broadcast behind the pair chronicled NF drowning in a lake, then getting trapped in a burning car as a presumed parent looked on without ever offering a lifeline.
These days, the 26-year-old Michigan-native born Nathan Feuerstein is flying high professionally after reaching a mind-blowing billion-plus streams on YouTube and finding his third long player debuting at the top of several charts, including the entire Billboard Top 200. But long before his stock rose to one of today’s hottest hip-hop trendsetters, he was building an extremely loyal (and massive) fan base thanks to good old fashioned “Grindin,’” while spilling his guts about a multitude of emotions, including losing a mother to addiction, plus his own encounters with abuse, abandonment, anxiety, striving to find a greater sense of self-worth, starving financially and clinging to his faith throughout each painful chapter.
Whether he was climbing up the sides of that same steel contraption during “Green Light” or spending time at ground level for “10 Feet Down,” NF held the wide-ranging crowd’s rapt attention, who echoed most of the lyrics and appeared genuinely thankful for his refusal to anything but “Real.” As the headliner moved from some of the deeper tracks on “Perception” to the previous, completely soul-baring “Therapy Session,” the intensity level only grew, culminating in a series of recent singles that have him shifting away from simply being an obvious Eminem appreciator to knocking at the door of his own artistically expanding superstardom.
Along with a live drummer and a playback of its electronic elements, “Let You Down” was by the far the most universally recognized moment, but also amongst the most powerful statements as the video broadcast behind the pair chronicled NF drowning in a lake, then getting trapped in a burning car as a presumed parent looked on without ever offering a lifeline. Outside of a brief but humble statement of appreciation, the man of few spoken words wrapped it all up with “NO NAME,” shooting down any haters who’ve popped up with an assurance that fame is not even remotely a motivating factor in why NF makes music, but rather, a necessary outlet in his personal existence who really means it when he says “I leave it all on the stage.”
For additional information on NF, visit NFRealMusic.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at House Of Blues, visit HouseOfBlues.com/Chicago.