While he’s been compared to legend and Rap God Eminem throughout his career, NF has still made his mark on the rap industry as a clever artist with loyal fans and commendably honest lyrics.
NF’s debut song was called “Alone” and was released in 2011 as a non-album single. It featured work from Brooke Griffith and producer and songwriter Tommee Profitt. While “Alone” is his first official song, his first album was Moments in 2010 with “Escape” first up on the tracklist.
How did NF distance himself from the Christian rap scene and make his way into the mainstream industry? Keep reading to find out more about his early career.
Childhood Years and Getting into Rap
Born in 1991 on the 30th of March, Nathan Feuerstein was plunged into a rough childhood. His parents ended up divorcing when he was young.
In 2009, Nathan’s mother tragically passed away from an overdose. He later created the track “How Could You Leave Us” in response to her death.
As he didn’t have the best experience growing up, Nathan often turned to rap as an escape.
In an interview with Numéro, he expressed how much music has saved him since his rough upbringing:
“I don’t know what I would have become without music. It really helped me get out of my malaise, to live something else apart from abandon and failure, and yet those are the things that nourish it. When I hear my songs on the radio, I sometimes find them really depressing!”
On the 29th of November 2010, Nathan released his first album, Moments, independently. It was under his real name and didn’t reach any charts.
The first song on this album was titled “Escape”, but it’s unknown which song exactly he wrote or performed first.
On his first days of rapping, he once shared:
“When I first started rapping, I would rap about, like, things that I heard about other rappers, so, I was not from the streets at all. But I would rap about what I heard other rappers were rapping about.”
Moments was heavily influenced by one of NF’s biggest idols: Eminem. It featured a very similar style to Em, with loud vocals, complicated rhymes, and similar beats to his earlier work like The Marshall Mathers LP and The Slim Shady LP.
Around the same time as his high school graduation, and Moments being released, Nathan began to focus on his faith.
“As I got a little bit older, and I got way more serious about my music and started pay to record and doing all this stuff, I just evolved such a passion for it, and I really feel like God reached out to me through my music.”
Watch the full video about his past below.
In 2011, NF published his first official single, which was called “Alone” with Tommee Profitt, a songwriter, and producer.
While this track also didn’t reach the charts, it did gain some interest from Xist Music, a record company at the time. In 2012, NF signed to Xist Music and the rapper was set to release an EP under the label.
Things didn’t go to plan, however, and the EP was never dropped due to some disputes. He left the label and didn’t join another one for a couple of years.
2014 rolled around, and NF signed to Capitol CMG – an American music group that is prominent within the industry of Christian Gospel music.
He finally dropped an EP, NF, and this time it hit the US Christian, Gospel, Rap, and UK Christian and Gospel charts. It was a breakthrough in terms of finally reaching the charts, but he hadn’t reached mainstream fame just yet.
Pushing Past Christian Rap
Even though NF started out in the Christian music scene, he started to move past the label of a “Christian rapper.”
Before his ultimate breakthrough with “Let You Down” in 2017 that peaked at No. 6 on the US R&B and Hip-Hop charts, NF addressed the Christian label. The interviewer asked him if he classifies himself as a Christian rapper, to which he replied:
“Not at all. I mean, I’m a Christian, but I’m just an artist. I’m a musician. You know what I mean? To me it’s like if you’re a Christian and you’re a plumber, are you a Christian plumber? That’s the easiest way for me to explain it. I just make music.”