Generally an unknown name in rap, Nathan Feuerstein (better known by his stage name NF) brings a unique perspective to rap that not many can execute with such precision. "The Search", released in July of 2019, is a conceptual album focusing on the psyche of NF as listeners explore the mental struggles he has experienced and is still going through. Providing not only wonderful, cohesive tracks, "The Search" also introduces narrative-connected music videos that really elevate his message and presentation to a new level.
When I compare "The Search" to other releases of the year, I found it the most overall consistent project. Right from the get-go, it provides an intro (of the same name) with a theme-setting conversation between Nathan and an unnamed party. He discusses how fame has negatively impacted his psyche, with clever metaphors to his mind as a house.
"Last year I had a breakdown Thoughts tellin me I'm lost gettin too loud Had to see a therapist then I found out Somethin' funny's going on up in my house"
He goes on to discuss his view on performances and the pressure put on him by his past success. This intro is done in a very well-executed manner, not only by how the tone and idea for the album is set, but how NF showcases his above-average lyricism within the first two minutes of the track. It's like The Search is there to say "I'm going to talk about a lot of deep things, but I'm going to make them into something relatable and enjoyable."
Leave Me Alone is the next track, which also covers a similar topic to The Search, except this track explores the impact of fans and their perception of NF. This track is a solid follow up to The Search, showcasing more rapid bars and introspective thought. What helps propel this track is the amazing visuals represented in the music video, which I highly recommend everybody watches.
My Stress is a masterpiece; simple as that. The production choices made to accompany NF's vocals are executed perfectly, to the point where this song is an experience to listen to from beginning to end. The chorus of this song is elevated from the pain inflected in NF's voice which makes his pleas to be free of his stress feel genuine and authentic.
Time is "The Search's" version of Let You Down. Currently a radio hit, Time is a love letter to NF's wife, Bridgette Feuerstein, discussing the rappers inner battle with self-hate and how he asks his wife to be patient with him as he learns to love himself. Combining the surprisingly good vocals of NF with dramatic violin-centered production is what I would consider to be a guaranteed pop-culture smash.
Returns, When I Grow Up, and Options stand out to me as tracks that showcase the verbal mastery of NF. Utilizing his unorthodox style of "curse-free" rap, he delivers impactful punchlines and decisive statements without the need for curse words to add more impact. Returns is a personal favorite of mine with Options and When I Grow Up being behind it in sequential order. Overall, these are three solid raps to help break up what I feel could be a sad project without these inclusions.
Let Me Go is an example of how flexible NF is when it comes to the tracks he flows on, with NF providing stunning, yet chilling vocals. With an excellent use of violins accompanying the driving snares, Let Me Go manages to capture NF's raw emotion inside of this track perfectly. Despite how sad of a song this manages to be, it's a beautiful track to listen on a day when you need a sad song.
Lastly, Interlude leading into Hate Myself is one of my favorite introductions to a track. Interlude provides an impromptu interview discussing Nate's spiral into depression and self hate, with Hate Myself leading into tear-jerking vocals and a message that speaks volumes. This song inspires empathy for Nate and I feel it does the best job connecting our thoughts to his, serving as a glimpse into the mental struggles he goes through daily.
The best way I can sum this album up is this: "The Search" manages to give depression a sound and message. Of the 20 tracks available on this album, I only find myself skipping only one or two because they all flow together in such a cohesive manner. While the overall tone is sad, it executes this concept with near perfection due to vocals and production that accompanied one another extremely well.
I love this album and I hope you all will too.
Written by Michael Miserendino