The last week of July produced an inadvertent first-week sales clash between Chance the Rapper and NF, a Michigan rapper with a significant cult following. Like Chance, NF frequently raps about looking to God for strength and salvation. But the parallels end there. While Chance is an avatar of human joy, NF is an avatar of suffering. In turn, he suffocates the listener; making your way through The Search can feel like getting fitted for a straitjacket. They even wear the same hat. He is either a worse writer than he thinks he is, a bad editor, or both, because he dwells on his own misery so persistently and in such recursive language that his verbosity verges on word vomit. Despite all this, NF is increasingly difficult to ignore, and not just because of his chart success.
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NF has cemented himself as the biggest Christian rap star since Lecrae, and yet even with a No. The music press barely acknowledges him. Like Eminem, NF draws from his traumatic childhood, never shying from ugly thoughts or inner demons. The Search is a dark record. And like Swimming , listening to The Search induces a feeling of powerlessness: How are we supposed to respond to an album that often reads like a suicide note? At least some listeners are finding comfort in this music. On a Reddit forum dedicated to the rapper, a small community of fans post about how seen and comforted NF makes them feel, sharing hopeful memes and heartfelt testimonials.
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So far, 24 different albums have been No. Merchandise and ticket bundles frequently figure into the equation. Both are artists at the margins of the dominant hip-hop discourses online, the radio, and so on. Self-lacerating misery is his sole subject. His internal well-being is a bonfire, and fame seems only to be an accelerant. It is alternately thrilling and draining, like trying to track individual bees in a swarm. As a rapper, NF is indefatigable, tongue-twisty and relentless — a clear inheritor of that other white rapper from Michigan, Eminem. This is the Eminem in him.
The Search is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist NF. It received generally mixed reviews from critics. The album was announced along with the second single and title track , which "express[es] the hard quest [NF has] been on lately in his life with the help of rapid fire rap verses". At Metacritic , which assigns a normalized rating out of to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 58 based on 6 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Writing for Pitchfork , Evan Rytlewski described the album as inducing a feeling of powerlessness and questioned how listeners "are supposed to respond to an album that often reads like a suicide note". Rytlewski wrote that NF "spends much of The Search darting in and out of an overbearing rappity-rap snarl-yell" and called his "struggles with mental illness [ However, he described the record as "alternately thrilling and draining" as well as "sometimes vigorous, sometimes exhausting", likening the listening experience to "living inside a snare drum during a marching band's halftime performance", and was critical of the lack of musical and lyrical variation on it.