Behind the Bars of Society

Rafael Castillo

Nathan Feuerstein, a Christian rapper, had a mother who struggled with and died from a pill addiction. His parents were divorced and his father was physically abusive. He grew up in Gladwin, a small town in Michigan and at a young age, he began rapping under the pseudonym NF, utilizing music to escape his problems. He often refers to his slogan, “Real Music,” in his songs since he voices his issues and struggles through his raps. He never intended to make raps for an audience until he realized other people were experiencing similar struggles and could actually relate to his music.

In his song “Outcast,” NF shares how he does not fit into the “common mold” of rap music. He faces the dilemma of fitting in with the crowd or staying true to himself. Fitting in to the crowd is a common struggle for teenagers around the world. By sharing his experiences, others from different backgrounds can have someone to relate to, so they do not feel alone.

He begins the song, explaining the context of how he feels through an analogy to a cage.

Woke up in the cell, where am I at?

Yeah, it’s cold, but I like that

What, am I trapped?

Heart’s beating out of my chest

Door’s locked, but the keys are in my hands

Hm, yeah, that’s weird, it doesn’t make sense, does it?”

NF illustrates himself in his own cell while holding the keys to leave it. He locks himself from everyone else because he does not conform to any group. Deemed an outcast, he has chosen to diverge from the mainstream path of rap music. It is ironic because it is commonly thought that once one enters a cage, they will try to escape. NF is focused on being himself even if that means isolating himself from the others in his genre and being the outcast.

He asks himself if he is trapped. Being an outcast does not mean a person is trapped, but people have come to think that way. Instead, he puts out the idea that maybe a cage is not to be feared. Maybe he is on the right side of it even though no one else is.

NF next references a common phrase of walking in another person’s shoes which refers to experiencing life from their perspective.

“I got my own shoes, I ain’t tryna fit in yours.”

Teenagers try to fit into the mold of a “normal” or “cool” person, but everyone is different. They all have different shoes, so they should not try to force themselves into the standard.

“They laugh and they tell me I’ll never get out,

I’m just trying to be me I am nobody else.”

This line describes his relationship with the people who encourage or force him to fit in. They laugh and treat him like he is forever trapped in his cage, but he is not trying to get out. Many people trade their own identity for a place in society, but in giving up their identity, they lose everything that makes them who they are. NF is reluctant to fall into that same trap.

“Yeah, I guess I don’t fit the mold of rap

‘Cause I’m respecting women.”

One of the prevalent themes in rap music today is sex. Rappers like Migos, Travis Scott and many others rap in a derogatory manner towards women. NF is pressured to fit in with this crowd. He, however, decides to go against the grain and stand for his beliefs, encouraging others to follow his example.

He is constantly faced with the dilemma of joining the norms of rap music or staying true to his beliefs and identity. He has the choice to concede his individuality, but he chooses daily to be himself.

While the artists in this series are Christians with music involving Christian messages, it is also their true story, a story any human can resonate with. Everyone faces the struggle of meeting social expectations like in Lecrae’s “Cry For You” and NF’s “Outcast.” Anyone can enjoy listening to KB’s “Not Today Satan” while working out or shooting hoops at the park. In all of their songs, they bring out a positive, relatable message worth listening to.

Read about Lecrae’s “Cry For You” and KB’s “Not Today Satan.”