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Underappreciated rapper NF tops charts with ‘HOPE’

NF’s music is not typical of the rap industry, but stands out in a positive and inspiring way.
Photo by Fernando Calvillo-Morales
NF’s “HOPE” is the artist’s latest rap album, released at the end of 2023.



Starting from nobody to becoming somebody, NF released his fifth Studio Album “HOPE” this past April, garnering attention after seeing a massive rise in rankings and viewerships.

NF first teased “HOPE ” early in 2023, four years after “The Search ” (released in 2019) and the “Clouds” mixtape (released in 2021).  The album reached the number two spot on the  Billboard 200 charts, just behind Morgan Wallen’s album “One Thing At a Time”, back in April. 

The project additionally reached number 1 in Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop category, making “HOPE”, NF’s third album to do so. 

NF does not see himself as a typical Christian; his music does not end with a happy ending, and he most music sites declare his music is similar to that of Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J Cole. Despite this, NF never fails to mention God all throughout his music. His faith leads him to often rap about serious topics, such as his mother’s drug overdose, suicide, mental issues, trauma, the trials and tribulations that he actually endured. 

“HOPE” is heavily recommended to those who enjoy rappers such as Eminem, Logic, Joyner Lucas, and J. Cole,  even those who may listen to  Hopsin. 

NF’s conscious thought to rap without swearing or using vulgar language to get his message across is something that the rap industry has hardly (if ever) seen from a modern rapper.

With his aggressive raps, and his rapid fire flow, along with his ability to squeeze dense rhymes in such  a short time frame is unique, NF himself feels like his music is “real”: he raps about topics that are most sensitive to him. 

“HOPE” features three singles: the title track, “Motto”, and “Happy”, all with beats that smash most of the competition and a flow that rivals rivers. The album showcases how much NF has grown since his debut album “Moments”.

Top Tracks on NF’s “HOPE”
The title track on NF's 2023 album is one of the best. (By NF)

The first and title track of “HOPE” delivers a strong opening, where he asks the character of Hope to not lose faith in him, while in the middle of the ocean. As he grapples with his progress, and his failures NF delivers his album, while fighting his past. He also makes  references to his past work such as the track “Why” from “The Search”, where he sings “What’s my definition of success? / Listening to what your heart says, /  standing up for what you know is, / while everybody is tucking between their legs.”

NF continues to encourage fans to chase after their own dreams, even when everybody laughs at or belittles them: those who persevere will see their rewards. He conveys this message while he explains that going through mental breakdown is not necessarily a bad thing, but can be the push towards healing. "HOPE" attracts many with NF’s introductory flow, beats, and overall message about growth while preserving trials, making the track one of the best of the album. 

"MOTTO" builds upon previous themes and addresses the irony of the industry. (By NF)

The next song, “MOTTO”, definitely intrigues listeners into how NF raps about how he finds going to Hollywood and getting with the “biggest of names” a nightmare. The beat fitting this theme, as it follows his fast but not eccentric speed of rapping. As he raps, NF brings his personal thoughts about how the rap industry and living in a fake reality kills the art of rap, especially when his lyrics state “his is the industry, / Where it ain't how big you are, it's how big you seem, / Where people sacrifice the art tryna chase a dream, / Then they wonder why they music's lackin' creativity.” NF himself almost fell into the cycle he describes, as he expressed how he wanted to be recognized by those who inspired him and how in the past he would have “killed” to be number one - but now does not care. He then ends the track  with his motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, a theme that furthers the idea of "HOPE". 

"HAPPY" is a song about being anything but. (By NF)

The third and final single that stands out is “HAPPY”, an appealing song about how NF confers with God about his personal issues. He wrestles with his feelings about his rise to fame as a rapper, and discusses how he stresses, and obsesses, over the little things in life. As the song explains, despite all the troubles, NF still feels comfortable living in that agony. He humbles himself when it comes to his pride, realizing pride holds him from opening up and asking for help. Even though he knows that he needs help, he states, “Can’t imagine who I’d be if I was Happy.”

The track is a song that deals with the question many ask like: “Who would I be if I was happy?” “HAPPY” addresses mental issues, particularly the idea that there could always be something off, even though one may not feel depressed. NF hints at a void that scares many from going the extra step toward the light. In the end of the song, he admits that he cannot keep living in his agony.

"HAPPY" is a deep and compelling song, especially in a world with a rising concern for mental health issues.

“HOPE” is an album that deserves a Grammy Award, even if NF does not want one. The album not only suggests his personal growth, with NF escaping label and industry expectations, but it also displays his trust in faith, asking God to hear him out after not calling out to Him in years. NF really outdid himself this year, with “HOPE” being the most powerful, beautiful, and realest album to drop in the 21st century.

View Comments (12)
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About the Contributor
Fernando Calvillo-Morales
Fernando Calvillo-Morales, Multimedia Content Creator
Senior Fernando Calvillo-Morales has put a lot of his time into clubs and sports including, Rock Climbing Club, the Varsity tennis team, Robotics Team, yearbook, and Compass. Fernando is clearly a leader within the West Chicago community. He has always been very dedicated, and applied himself to being the best he can be. A significant part of Fernando is his humor: most would say he is quite a jokester. He can never fail to make someone laugh and instantly improve their day. Loyalty is also an especially important quality to Fernando, and he is a firm believer in helping others find success. When Fernando is not found drinking chia water, he is listening to NF. His favorite part about NF is his ability to sing and go in-depth about the highs and lows of life, and how to overcome obstacles. 
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Comments (12)

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  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 8:03 pm

    I completely understand, Christian rap is not everybody’s cup of tea but at least you enjoyed some of NF’s songs. Thank you Mr. Aiello!

  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 8:00 pm

    Same, NF is always in my playlists! HOPE you keep on listing to NF and enjoyed my review article.

  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 7:59 pm

    I agree with you! Nate is real and very rare in the rap industry and in general also that fans love him. What I meant about underappreciated though is the fact that the rap industry doesn’t appreciate NF nor respects him as a rapper. Either way HOPE you enjoyed this article.

  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you for your input and while I meant unappreciated by the rap industry he works in as we can see by how little they treat him even though he has over 16 million listeners on spotify alone. I too have loved his music and I’ll check out your remixes. HOPE you enjoy reading the article though.

  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 7:49 pm

    Running is a beautifully made song, I wish I could have added Running but Nate’s “HOPE” album has many quality made songs that still leaves a punch and Like you said the hooks stick to you. Enjoy reading more on our website.

  • Fernando Calvillo-MoralesJan 21, 2024 at 7:47 pm

    Definitely, and the unique quality of NF is that he focuses on many topics not just one!

  • Johnathan CalvilloJan 21, 2024 at 12:01 pm

    NF is a great rapper and one who is definitely unique amung all other Christian rappers.

  • UnshakableLoveJan 21, 2024 at 8:36 am

    NF is truly a musical genius and in my book, one of the greatest musicians of all time. With the intensity and grandure of a symphony and a rap style so quick and thought provoking, hooks that stick with you. The song “Running” literally changed my life, for the better. That’s the biggest compliment I can give. Love you Nate.

  • JohnathanJan 21, 2024 at 6:33 am

    Unappreciated than how did he top the charts in all honesty ever since I ran across him I’ve always loved his music and have done 11 remixes to some of his best to show my appreciation if ya would like to check them out head over to my Instagram Jrealz2024 HOPE ya enjoy

  • Jennifer SinkeyJan 20, 2024 at 10:35 pm

    The is not underappreciated to those who listen and hear him and relate to his music. He’s real and that’s very rare

  • AkendoJan 20, 2024 at 4:01 am

    He’s the best I’ve ever listened to, like I literally listen only to Nf songs. Not nf no music for me

  • Mr. AielloJan 18, 2024 at 10:49 am

    Not a huge Christian rap fan, but I do like some of NF’s songs. Very apt description of the artist and his music.