This week brought the much-anticipated release of hip-hop anomaly NF’s The Search. The album is rather long form consisting of 20 tracks, about 18 of which are full-length songs. Nevertheless, one has a hard time finding filler tracks in the midst of what could arguably be considered the artist’s most appealing release yet.
While The Search is stylistically comparable to NF’s prior releases Perception (2017) and Therapy Session (2016), the record more than polishes the elements incorporated into his previous works. The verses are smooth and aggressive in all the right places, and the choruses are unique and catchy. Vocally, the rapper locks down his tone and dynamics to a T. Each verse crescendos and decrescendos in a way that seems to strategically draw in the listener. Rhythmically the tracks are very diverse, and melodically they create a canvas that supports the lyrical tone of the album as a whole.
However, the upgrades in composition and production are really just the foundation for the real meat of the meal here: the lyrics. Rap has always been more vocally focused than other genres of music, and the format allows artists as writers to get more words on a page and into a song. This only makes it more frustrating to hear so many mainstream rappers fill their platform with lyrics that are less than profound, to say the least. The Search, however, is a breath of fresh air in this respect and a great example of the qualities that would categorize NF as an anomaly. While the record does include its occasional flex track (listen to “Options”) the core of the album deals with themes of self-hatred (listen to “Hate Myself”) and faith. Tracks like “Change” and “I Miss the Days” follow Feuerstein’s struggle with pain, fear, and insecurity. The passion and sincerity behind such tracks is surely what has kicked NF to the top of the charts in the past and will hopefully be a constant throughout the future.
Many have (fairly) criticized Feuerstein in the past for being monotonous. His themes have always been dark, and his fascination with such have made a lack of variety to be expected. However, it seems that NF and producer Tommee Profitt really hit a stride with The Search giving each song its own unique twist while still maintaining a sense of homogeneity that allows the record to flow well as a whole.
Personally, I can’t help but find this album enticing. If you don’t like rap or hip-hop then it may not be your style, but if you do then be sure to give it a listen. I was surely happy to see NF on Billboard with his last album, and this one has definitely lived up to expectations in my book.