NF- Hope


Anthony Torrez, Podcaster

NF is an artist that always took his work seriously and incorporated his life into his music. He has never had an easy life but always kept his music real. He stays true to his slogan: “Real music till’ the day we die ” and it has never been more evident than in his new single “Hope”. NF has always rapped about issues about his past, and the trauma he has lived through, but this song has a new perspective. 

The song focuses on reflection, and growth, and highlights his inner conflict, and change. He has always said that he was “at war with himself” (first emphasized in his song “WHY”) and never let go of things of his past. So for that statement to finally come to a close is historic in NF’s career. Thirty years of his life experiences have finally come full circle, and the music video encompasses the journey beautifully. It is packed to the brim with references and allusions to his past songs. If you haven’t already, go check out the song NF – HOPE so you can follow along. 

NF is notorious for wearing an oversized hoodie, with ripped jeans, timberlands, and a cap. He always wears black and is known for wearing his own merch, but in this video, he’s wearing all white. The all-white outfit, which is a symbol of purity, was worn by people in the music video NF – Leave Me Alone. In this video, people were wearing all black and had balloons (which I’ll touch on soon) that they were giving up to put on the clothes of purity, but at this point, NF was only visiting this “change of heart setting”. This will be important later. 

At the beginning of the song, we are already brought into NF’s talent in cinematography, and storytelling abilities. He’s in the middle of an ocean drifting away on a raft until he reaches a beautiful island. When he arrives the music reaches a climax, and we can hear two voices saying “my album”. They’re both NF’s voices, but one sounds distorted and both voices wrestle to claim dominance over the other. The significance of his inner battle for ownership of the album is important. This sets the tone for the rest of the song and shows how NF is taking over for this song and album. This album belongs to NF, and not his inner feelings, doubts, anxiety, etc. implying that his past albums have been controlled by his inner emotions and thoughts. 

For the next minute, we see NF with a map. This map is “the map to hope” alluded to in his song “The Search”. He takes this map and walks around the beach to be met with a familiar face. He sees himself wearing all black and he points himself in one direction. He follows the man in black’s direction, but eventually finds himself back where he started to be greeted by an all-black NF laughing at his face. His former self; his inner negative feelings just brought him in a circle and back to his fears, doubts, depression, etc. It shows the inward battle that people face in life and how sometimes people just come full circle to the things that they were trying to walk away from. 

Nf is pushed onto the floor and transported through the roof, into a mansion. This scene brings goosebumps to the NF veterans because the song “Mansion” begins to play in the background. The mansion is significant because the song talks about his trauma and how each one has a room in the mansion of his brain (Check out the song to dive deeper into the importance of the mansion NF – Mansion (Audio) ft. Fleurie). The mansion is his brain and how in every room there is some sort of traumatic experience inhabiting his brain and inhibiting NF from forgetting. The song dilutes itself and is brought back into “hope” where NF begins to talk about mental breakdowns, and how it can be a negative experience, but was also the thing that he needed to pick himself up. If he “never hit rock bottom” then he would have never been the person that he is today. 

He walks into different rooms of the mansion, and at the first door, he opens he is greeted by a lot of balloons. Typically when you walk into a room and unexpectedly are greeted by a lot of balloons it’s for a special occasion but in this context… it’s not. The balloons signify burdens and things NF does not want to let go of; black balloons that float in his head. He closes the door feeling almost repulsed at the place he used to be. 

Sequentially, NF proceeds to open a second door, and in this one is a cage. We first see the symbolic cage in his album: Perception. The last lyrics of the Intro to his third album Perception (Intro III) says “I thought you had me in prison this whole time, but I’m the one holding the keys”. This idea of having the keys but staying in prison was the cornerstone of NF’s Perception album. 

To provide context; in Perception, he comes out with his triple-platinum song: NF – Let You Down. In this song, he again uses the juxtaposition of his former self and his present self. Throughout the song, the listener is led to believe that we are watching his father see his son, NF, drown and burn with no expression or sense of remorse. It’s not until NF is found in a casket that “the father” finally shows remorse and breaks down crying. We figure out by the end of the song that the old man was an older version of NF the whole time; again reiterating the idea of the battle within himself. 

Back in the room in the mansion, the listener sees the older version of NF in the cage this time, showing off how that moment in life is finally caged up. We see the older version with the keys in his hands again showing how he’s always had the keys to leave the metaphorical cage, but never chose to use them. During this scene, NF is talking about how in life, you need to “not accept defeat and face your demons” and in order to be “the best version of yourself” you need to “be someone you’re not to hear the voice of reason”. This is important because this is 30 years of experience that NF had to build up his credibility in this scenario. He’s finally rapping about hopes and passions, and a big influence for that was his first child’s birth. His wife, Bridgette Feuerstein, gave birth to his first child on August 13 of 2021. According to NF, little Beckham Feuerstein was the reason he took a step back and really had to look in the mirror. He was the pivotal point in NF’s life where he had to reform his life. 

NF finally steps out of the room and is kidnapped again by his formal self and the music stops. A quick note to the cinematography and music: it’s important to notice how the screen goes black and the music stops to emphasize that we are no longer in the mansion. The music resumes after a couple of seconds, but now we are transported to a beautiful mountaintop, where NF is finally alone. 

In his very heavy song NF – How Could You Leave Us, he talks about his mother. I’ll let you watch this one because there’s a lot to unfold, but what’s important about that song is that he stresses “I ain’t gon say that I forgive you cus it hasn’t happened”. That alone is such a heavy statement, so for him to say: “don’t get it twisted that wasn’t shot, momma I forgive you” after basically 30 years of baggage, is such a tear-jerker. If I have to confess, I was tearing up throughout the whole song, but this part broke me. 

It’s impossible to not get goosebumps listening to this next minute of the song. Nf repeats the same line with a different topic at the end of it. He says “30 years of _____” a great number of times. Each time the song gets a little more intense and the volume increases as it reaches a climax. He’s basically speaking all these negative things out of existence and it’s meaningful because he’s yelling on a mountain top letting go of his problems. After this repetition, we hear the distorted voice again, but this time it’s almost as if it’s struggling to come out. It yells “wait” and the video shows it trying to take over NF’s body. Like a symbiotic relationship, it screams out of NF’s body and it manifests in a very black and grungy sort of paint. Almost like Venom from Spider-Man, if I were to compare it to something in pop culture. 

To note the cinematography, the camera is spinning around NF and it matches the style and the music so well because it creates urgency and expectancy in the viewer. Eventually, the flashes of his inner past start to get bigger and louder and now forms sentences of doubt and ignorance. It says things like “you’ll never be loved, you’ll never be saved, might as well give up”, but NF refutes each and every negative thing that he says with the opposition. After going back and forth in an amazing performance by NF, his inner self screams out “I’m the one in charge” and NF refutes and exclaims “I’m taking the-” as the instruments reach their highest point, and the music is at a high intensity, his inner self screams out one last time before all the sounds cut again- and Nf finishes the song with “reigns”. 

This song really holds so much significance and it’s such an incredible piece of work. I’ve been a fan for a long time and so for 30 years of his life to come full circle is stunning. NF is notorious for intricacy and it’s expected of him to always deliver quality work while keeping it real. This by far is, in my opinion, one of the NF’s greatest works.