Review: NF – Mansion

NFAll too often the knock against much of the music produced in the Christian world has been that it’s whitewashed, removing the dirt and debris from life and essentially delivering a message that shares that if we accept Jesus, everything will be smooth sailing from here on out. And while that criticism unfortunately holds way more water than we’d care to admit, rising hip hop artist NF breaks down those barriers on his full length feature debut, Mansion, letting it all hang out, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And listeners are that much better for it.

NF appeared on the radar last year with his well-received self-titled EP which got folks excite but here he pulls out all the stops and fully lives up to the hype. Featuring great arrangements punctuated with tight beats, smooth guest artists, authentic lyrics, and a flow from NF that continues to bring to mind none other than Slim Shady himself, Mansion is one of this year’s most exciting records.

NF kicks things off with the appropriately titled “Intro” as a moody lead in is met with a building beat and the artist’s rapid fire rhymes as he throws down the gauntlet early and engages the audience right off the bat. The title track follows hard after and is definitely among the must-listen as the artist speaks of honest horrors he’s gone through in his young life, from being physically abused to losing his mother to a drug abuse. The result is an honestly angry rap that wrestles with that very anger, NF’s restless, heartfelt tale contrasted by the soulful guest vocals of Fleurie who shines here.

Fans of the EP will be familiar with “All I Have” and “Wake Up,” songs that continue to work well in the set list here while “Wait” is a smooth slow jam that lets NF show he’s no one trick pony as he tackles some more conventional vocal duties alongside a lovelorn lyric. “Face It” kicks with a bold kick of bass and a painfully honest tale of resisting change and of facing up to our mistakes as “Motivated” is a track that’s bound for many a sports highlight video, dropping it hard and letting NF explode with killer lyrical energy.

The artist’s journey to this place takes center stage on “Notepad,” driven forward by a smooth rhythm before “Turn the Music Up” will have you doing just that, reaching for the volume and cranking it to eleven. It’s just that sort of track, one that draws you in and is a straight up hype song and it delivers in spades. But with “Paralyzed” that energy is abated and, framed by warm keyboard fills, the artist takes to singing again, this time openly sharing about the numbness and pain of bad decisions, almost seeming to echo the Apostle Paul while The Neverclaim’s Jeremiah Carlson steps in to help the artist share his faith journey on the hope filled “I’ll Keep On.” And on “Can You Hold Me,” with Britt Nicole stepping in with harmony vocals, NF closes with a heartfelt prayer that asks for freedom from the darkness, exploding with bright emotion that ends this album perfectly, with honesty and hope.

NF’s full-length debut is easily among the most exciting debuts to drop in 2015. Boasting killer production, honest songwriting, and killer rhymes, NF is an artist that can go toe to toe with the best on any form of radio and come out on top. And with Mansion, he’s bound to do just that.

One Response to Review: NF – Mansion

  1. Tyler Greenhalgh says:

    This is a really good album. Awesome review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *