Singers who invoke God in their lyrics rarely break into the mainstream. But one budding hip-hop artist named NF is doing just that.
On July 26, Nathan John Feuerstein, better known as “NF,” released his fourth studio album called “The Search.” With his new music, he made No.1 on Billboard’s Artist 100 chart for the week of August 10. While many in the media are rightfully applauding him for addressing mental health with his latest music, they’re missing another message NF is singing: seek God.
It’s a message that will reach countless ears. The 28-year-old Michigan native’s album has claimed the top spot in iTunes’ album chart, on top of Billboard’s charts. On YouTube, his new music videos boast millions of views, including “Change,” one of his tracks on “The Search.”
“Last year, I felt suicidal,” he chants, but “This year, I might do somethin’ different like talkin’ to God more.”
He continues to reference God, in “My Stress,” where his lyrics express worry about failing after encountering success: “I drive until I’m lost and just sit in my car yelling / My inner critic talks, I’m just hopin’ that God helps me.”
He also mentions God in “Nate,” when he sings, “If you got questions or you need advice, then talk to God / ‘Cause He’s the only one that listens even when you think He isn’t.”
In “Only,” the singer adds, “Wishin’ that I’d pray / A little more often and put more time into my faith” while in “Hate Myself,” he chants, “Pray to God with my arms open.” Then, in “Let Me Go,” NF asks, “Wonder how I look in God’s eyes / Am I a good person or a lost one?”
While NF is a Christian and a rapper, he refuses the label “Christian rapper.” In a 2016 Idolator interview, NF said he “wouldn’t describe myself as that” even though he is a Christian.
“To me it’s like if you’re a Christian and you’re a plumber, are you a Christian plumber?” he clarified. “That’s the easiest way for me to explain it.”
“I don’t make music for Christians,” he added. “I make music for everyone. I make music for the masses. I want people to listen to my music all over the world and relate to it and feel it the way I feel it.”
And he does just that – although his path to success hasn’t been easy.
According to Rapzilla and God Reports, NF’s parents divorced while he was still a child. Growing up, his mother’s boyfriend physically abused him. His mother also struggled with addiction to the point where she missed his graduation and later died from a drug overdose – when he was just 18.
“I had a lot of problems growing up,” he said in one interview, according to God Reports. After the divorce, “My two sisters and I stayed with my mom for a little bit, but then my mom’s boyfriend was physically abusing me and one of my sisters. My dad took us from my mom and that whole situation got really messed up.”
“These experiences left me questioning a lot of things, and I went through my teenage years wondering if God was real,” he said. But that changed one day when God hit him with a “wake-up call.”
“I started going back to church and this lady came up to me,” he said. “I remember her saying, ‘I feel like I need to remind you that God is real and wants to have a relationship with you. You need to know that.’”
And suddenly, he did.
“I really felt like God was smacking me in the face and telling me to look at the things around me, like the trees and people,” he said. “With all the things in this world, how could there not be a Creator?”
He continued, “That was definitely the turning point in my life when I knew that even though my walk with God hadn’t been on the right path, I believed there was a God.”
NF later became the first hip-hop artist signed by Capitol Christian Music Group, the force behind TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Hillsong.
Today, he’s one of the most popular rappers out there. And, as he would put it, also a Christian.