Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
When a company is used to doing things very well, it is hard for them to try something new. It takes courage. It is risky and it also takes vision.
Capitol Christian Music Group (CMG) decided to walk on uncharted waters when they chose to sign the first rapper to their label, NF. Their label is home to multiple Grammy-winning artists such as Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Amy Grant, Kari Jobe, Mandisa and many more. While they have many talented artists and they have produced hit records upon hit records, the closest thing to a rapper on their label is Toby Mac.
They clearly know how to succeed in the lane that they run in, but it takes a lot to take on an entire genre that they haven’t fully tapped into. NF put out a well-received EP back in August of 2014 and he’s about to release his first full project on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
The album is titled Mansion and in this review, we’ll give listeners that may be unfamiliar with NF, a preview of what to expect from him.
Passion & Talent
NF released a video for the intro track on this project and it was the best thing to show people what he’s made of. When you hear the very first track, you know he’s serious about this thing called rap. His cadence is smooth as he rides the beat and he goes off with passion.
This theme is common all throughout the album. He has songs that are slow and songs that have a faster rock feel. Through it all, each bar that he lays out is flooded with zeal. You can really feel the emotion tied to the lyrics as you listen.
Aside from the intro, he has another song called “Motivated” where he flexes his lyrical ability. The song is simply about how he’s motivated to be great and make an impact on people. However, he weaves plenty of witty punchlines throughout the song that will make you want to rewind while listening.
NF makes it very clear that he is a rapper and can go against others when it comes to pure spitting, but his talent doesn’t stop there. Mansion displays his ability to sing as well as his ability to tackle different styles.
For instance, you will hear singing on songs like “Wait,” “Face It,” and “Paralyzed.” Also, you will hear him tap into more of a rock/rap sound on songs like “Wake Up” and “Motivated.”
He has the unique ability to tackle different styles and still sound like he’s being true to himself. It doesn’t sound like he’s trying to force a certain style.
With that being said, there is one sound that people will most likely hear and that is Eminem. It has nothing to do with his skin color or the fact that he’s from Michigan – it is his flow. He raps with passion and aggression. He even talks about his anger in some of the songs and it permeates some of his verses. The angry fast flow sounds very similar to the style that many have come to know from Em. On “All I Have,” the way he emphasizes certain words (and makes the word jump out from the beat) while rapping fast, is also very similar to Eminem’s style.
One last thing listeners will notice about the overall sound on this project is CMG’s finger print. The label is a powerhouse in the CCM industry so it’s only expected that some of the songs would have that feel. Specifically, “Turn The Music Up,” “I’ll Keep On,” and “Can You Hold Me” (feat. Britt Nicole) have the sound that may be found on a local Christian radio station near you.
This is a question that some people may be asking as they listen through this project. NF is a very honest rapper and his stories are very raw. Mansion the album, and even the title track, take the listener through various aspects of NF’s life. Being that he’s telling a lot of stories and talking through personal pain, the mention of Jesus’ actual name is scarce. This may end up bothering some fans that are looking for more explicit Christian content.
He mentions how good his flow is and how hard he grinds to get where he is a lot throughout the record and this may cause some listeners to judge him as well. However, if you listen to his recent interview with DJ Wade-O and if you listen to his lyrics, you will hear a man that has been through a lot of pain that now genuinely wants his talent to impact and inspire people.
If you are searching for Bible references and a rally cry for God’s army, this may not be the project for you. But if you want to hear a growing Christian’s story of dealing with life and God, you may find some inspiring gems while listening.
Overall, this was a very well-produced project and NF will most likely gain plenty of new fans. There are plenty of songs on this project that have a high replay value and make for an easy listen. He does a great job getting the listener’s attention and being transparent. It makes you want to pay attention to the story he’s telling.
The EP he released in August features “All I Have” and “Wake Up,” but the versions that made this album were re-done and enhanced a bit. Many may not have caught the first EP, so this will still be new to them.
As he continues his career, he will have to fight to shake the Eminem similarities and on this project, listeners will be able to hear that he can offer much more than that one similarity.
While it may have been tough for a label like Capitol Christian to branch out to the rap genre, NF seems like he will be a promising artist and continue to add value to their label.
NF’s Mansion is set to be released Tuesday, March 31st. Pre-order HERE.