The American rapper is often compared to Eminem, and he didn’t grow up far away from Marshall either.
NF was born in Gladwin, Michigan, which is where he remained for his childhood. The town is around three hours from the largest city in Michigan—Detroit—which is where famed rapper Eminem grew up and still lives today.
Stick around to learn more about NF’s childhood and what inspired him to choose a career in rap.
What was NF’s childhood like?
NF, whose real name is Nathan John Feuerstein, was born in Gladwin, Michigan, on March 30, 1991. He grew up in this small town along with his two sisters.
Gladwin was named after a British military commander, named Henry Gladwin. The town began as a lumber town, established during the Michigan lumber boom, due to its prime location on the Cedar River.
Today, Gladwin is a predominantly white town with a higher than average number of residents below the poverty line, when compared to the national average.
NF’s mother struggled with drug addiction while the rapper was growing up—sometimes she wouldn’t come home or would not show up to important events, even his graduation from Gladwin High School.
To make matters worse, a boyfriend of his mom would sometimes get violent with him and one of his sisters. Things reached a head, and NF’s father removed all three children from the home to come live with him.
After the dramatic events, NF only occasionally saw his mother in the next few years. When he was in high school he made a decision to stop seeing his mother since the court had ordered that all contact be monitored by a social worker, and NF felt uncomfortable about the arrangement.
Music was always something that NF could turn to to get him through his hardships. He started recording tracks on an old karaoke machine. He would use one mic for the vocals and another to record instrumentals.
NF recalled, “[Music] really helped me get out of my malaise, to live something else apart from abandonment 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!”
NF suffered a devastating tragedy in 2009. His mother died after she overdosed. He dedicated one of his songs to the ordeal—”How Could You Leave Us.”
Why did NF become a rapper?
NF shared that, “At about 12 years old, I realized I didn’t have a choice. I started writing and rapping, opening my musical field towards other things that had nothing to do with rap, like Adele and Ed Sheeran.”
“They made me want to add the chords and keyboards—as you can hear on the album Perception, I put them wherever I could!” he continued.
NF is frequently billed as being the “new Eminem.” He acknowledged the comparison by saying, “He was a major source of inspiration […] I’d listen to Eminem non-stop, I’d write out his texts in my school books, I’d watch his videos over and over… He’s the one who gave me the courage to think that I could do hip hop as well.”
Listen to NF’s popular 2019 “When I Grow Up” below.