Monday, October 15th, 2018

NF – Lie

We do not love the way…


Will Rivitz:

Alfred Soto: The images’ insistent lack of imagination would be dreadful on their own, but NF’s flow and singing also show a toxic charmlessness. If he’s braying like this, I understand why she left. 

Rebecca A. Gowns: Popular songs where a guy calls a woman a manipulative liar make me feel sick in the pit of my stomach. Like, always; but especially right now.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Lie” is far too mean to be handled well by NF. Over a portentous beat that feels like something Bruno Mars would have tossed in 2010, he curdles a spiteful core of a song into a simple angst that he can’t even sell well.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: At least Drake’s woman-hating is nuanced and bolstered by musical elements beyond lyrics, making his discography a curious ethnographic document of a subtler strain of misogyny that often goes ignored. This is just overwrought bitterness that grows increasingly obnoxious with each grating second, and I’m speaking strictly of NF’s beige rapping and faux-emotional singing. The bridge is not only an embarrassing afterthought, it drives home how this song is meant to sound like little more than an onslaught of accusations: manipulative power-struggle dominance through false sincerity and sheer force of repetition. Cleverly, he not only paints his ex as a liar to himself, but to her friends. Why? I imagine that it’s fueled by a desire to see her self-worth completely destroyed, to make it feel like her “failure” in this relationship is emblematic of a deeper, more innate deficiency. As such, we’re not granted the opportunity to understand this woman’s side. Which is fine for a break-up song like this, but it doesn’t really seem like we’re meant to understand her as a singular person either, just a point on a spectrum of womanness. So then what is “Lie” but a familiar cautionary tale of how evil women can be? That NF’s puny, juvenile anger only accomplishes the exact opposite deems this an unmistakable failure.

Taylor Alatorre: I’ll leave it to others to go in-depth on the gender dynamics if they want (short version: it’s bad). My main concern is how he makes lashing out at an ex-girlfriend sound so boring and bougie. “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” was puerile in ways that still resonate, but at least there was a reckless dirtbag edge to it, rusty spoons and thrown lemonade and all. NF is a Christian rapper and he can’t even find it in him to compare this woman to like, a succubus or something? Instead he solemnly humblebrags that she persists in texting him despite claiming to be uninterested; a luta continua. It brings to mind the trifles of adolescence in a Romney-Clinton suburb, where the rich kids complain about swimming pool maintenance and the AP students compete to see who got the least sleep last night. This is megachurch rap, in which Christianity as a personal and communal relationship with God is superseded by Christianity as a palette-swapped reproduction of the worldly pecking order.

Jonathan Bradley: The 2010 US Census counted four black people in NF’s hometown of Gladwin, Michigan. In a 2014 interview with a Christian website, he talks about moving from DC Talk to T-Bone as his awareness of rap progressed, though he says he admires Eminem, too. Much of the coverage of him seems to be from Christian niche publications, or small-time local news sources. On one of these that I found, a middle-aged white woman comments through her Facebook profile that her grandchildren, who live in Gladwin, were going to see NF perform at a hometown show, and she hoped they would enjoy him. (I hope so too. It’s nice when people enjoy shows.) Premier Christianity marvels — preposterously — that “the only other Christian rapper who has received this high level of mainstream success in recent years is Lecrae,” and then distinguishes Lecrae from NF: “Over the past few years, as the Black Lives Matter movement has grown, Lecrae has begun to speak up on social media about racism in America. And he’s paid a heavy price.” (It’s not clear what NF thinks of BLM, but PC posits that Lecrae’s loss is his gain.) There is a particular cultural terrain in which NF exists: a white and rural Midwestern one where even if conservatism and Christianity are not paired, participants understand them as natural complements. But in NF’s world as it exists on record, all I can hear is rap music that doesn’t believe it needs rap music: severed from its cultural roots and its creative wellspring. NF performs like he doesn’t even hear the beat he’s on.

Ryo Miyauchi: NF’s selfish need to be loved back, and him using a washed-up G-Eazy format of mournful love rap to express it, taps into a mind no more mature than a teen who’s barely getting a taste of their first break-up. He cops to having very limited resources like them, too, in the way teens can’t supply nearly as enough in material to sufficiently express their affection for whomever they have feelings for. There are countless great songs about young love, made by young artists who could be in it themselves, and that tunnel vision of a worldview at that age often adds a unique voice to the art. What’s distasteful, though, about not only NF but countless other artists who’s driven by this similar attitude is their bitter assumption that they somehow got cheated out of a transaction, and they’re now owed something. Time is all they can afford to give at that age, and true, it hurts to see it all go to waste, but they have no one to blame for their embarrassment but themselves after being foolish enough to think it will eventually be rightfully returned. It’s a misguided idea to hear it echoed in a pop song especially as some form of confirmation when they could’ve just swallowed their pride and refrained from willing this sour record into existence.

Will Adams: At this point it’s hard for me to listen to any white male rapper without “YOU’RE USIN’ WAY TOO MANY NAPKINS” crossing my mind, but NF tries his damnedest to inject some non-risible pathos into “Lie.” But despite the repeated gaslighting and fixation on minute details — “why’d you call last night” forms the basis of the whole song — there’s not enough hysterics to reach an Eamon level. So there’s little incentive to be on his side, even with an effectively somber beat backing him.

Reader average: [1.57] (7 votes)

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6 Responses to “NF – Lie”

  1. Do we have a list of the worst songs of 2018, by any chance? I’m trying to remember everything that’s scored poorly this year and it feels like there have been, err, a goodly number of those songs.

  2. Train at 1.56

    Juice WRLD at 1.67

    Paul McCartney, CH MBE at 1.71

    Why Don’t We at 1.71

    Iggy Azalea & Quavo at 1.75

    Florida Georgia Line at 1.86

    Yodel Kid at 1.89

    Weezer at 2.08

    Kriss Kross Amsterdam Et Al at 2.12

    DJ Khaled Et Al at 2.12

    James Arthur at 2.12

    and this monstrosity make up our anti-sidebar for the year

  3. TYVM, this is a terrifying and ungodly list and I am keeping it

  4. Great, now I’m disappointed that this didn’t score lower than Train. Will be interesting to see if anyone can break this tie by the end of the year.

  5. Interestingly, despite having a greater number of sub-[2.00] scores this year than ever, there hasn’t been anything that’s crossed into our bottom ten, which still stands as follows:

    1. Lukas Graham – Strip No More [0.70]
    2. Jake Paul ft. Erika Costell & Uncle Cade – Jerika [0.89]
    ~3. Brad Paisley & LL Cool J – Accidental Racist [1.00]
    ~3. Alyssa Reid ft. Jump Smokers – Alone Again [1.00]
    5. Loveable Rogues – What a Night [1.20]
    6. The Chainsmokers – #Selfie [1.27]
    7. Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own [1.38]
    8. Hedley – Kiss You Inside Out [1.40]
    9. Bibi H – How It Is (Wap Bap) [1.43]
    10. G-Eazy ft. Marc E. Bassy – Some Kind of Drug [1.50]

  6. honestly, i overrated this song