Even with two Number One albums to his name there’s a pretty big chance you’ve never heard of NF. For the uninitiated, he’s the Michigan rapper regularly compared to Eminem whose latest album, ‘The Search’, beat Chance the Rapper‘s official debut album, ‘The Big Day’ to the top of the Billboard album chart back in August. But even with all of his success Nathan Feuerstein remains unknown for the most part.
“I personally like that people don’t know who I am,” NF tells NME. “I think sometimes maybe I am the underdog, or just an overlooked artist, and I’m fine with that. At this point I’m in a place where I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. The fans love it so that’s all the matters.”
Watch our full video interview with NF above
NF’s music speaks loudest to the misunderstood youth who feel like no one in listening. Offering them a voice and a form of refuge, the former electrician’s music tackles a wide range of topics, including broken relationships (‘Time’), mental health (‘Nate’) and being okay with being different (‘Outcast’). But while his music helps others and gives him an opportunity to vent his frustrations and scream at the world during the creative process, there was a period Feuerstein found himself dealing with issues so deep that he had to seek out a therapist.
“I was having a mental breakdown. I was questioning my life. I was questioning everything,” he explains. “The song ‘Nate’, that’s where I’m rapping to the younger version of me, that was inspired from checking myself into therapy after I got off the ‘Perception’ tour because I was so mentally in a bad place… I ended up getting diagnosed with OCD.”
Taking several bites at the cherry before achieving the type of success that affords him the luxury of not really having to worry about financial security anymore, NF shares some advice for those wanting to give up their day job in order to pursue their dream career.
“Keep your job while you’re trying to do it,” he advises, recalling a time where he quit his job in order to do music full-time. “I tried to do music for a year, full-time, but it was basically like having a store with no product in it. So it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m an artist. I wanna do a show.’ Then they walk into your store and they’re like, ‘Well, there’s nothing in here. There’s no music.’ I was trying to just pay my bills but I wasn’t building a business. I wasn’t building a career. I wasn’t getting better at writing. I was so concerned every month with paying a bill.
“When I signed my record deal I still worked for like six months at my job. And it’s because I didn’t wanna get in the same position again where if something goes wrong I don’t wanna not be able to pay someone to record music, because that’s always been my biggest marketing tool.”
Because of his upbringing in the church and his frequent success on Billboard’s Christian charts you’ll often find NF referred to as a ‘Christian rapper’. And while it’s not a label that he’s particularly fond of, the Michigan rapper has always acknowledged a strong bond with God – whether through his music or in everyday conversation. But as of late he says he hasn’t really talked to God all that much, admitting “I think in some of the more desperate times of my life I go to God and I feel guilty about it because [I ask] ‘Why do I only do it when I feel this way?'”
Continuing to discuss his beliefs, there was a point in Feuerstein’s life where he believed that in order for him to get along with someone both parties needed to share the same opinion. But things have changed for the 28-year-old since getting married last year.
“I’m married now and I’ve come to a place in my life where we don’t have to agree on everything – I used to think that,” he reveals. “I thought you had to believe everything I believe and you had to think everything that I think…I think because of the way I was brought up I kinda became a judgemental person because I felt like everybody had to think like me and that’s just a terrible way to live because that’s impossible.”
Watch our full interview with NF at the top of the page where the Michigan rapper talks being diagnosed with OCD, his Top 5 Eminem songs, religion, therapy and pipping Chance the Rapper to the top spot on Billboard.
NF’s ‘The Search’ is out now.