It’s finally here! The review on NF’s CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE) I promised so long ago! It’s one of my longest posts, and it took a while to do, but I had a lot of fun. It was difficult to actually accurately rate them, and the ratings (1 star – 5 star) may not be entirely synonymous with my thoughts, but I tried. 😛
For this review, I’m going to use the Goodreads rating system:
5 stars: it was amazing
4 stars: I really liked it
3 stars: I liked it
2. It was okay
1. I did not like it
Alright, let’s get started!
Spotify link to CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE): Click here.
The song’s message & stats: CLOUDS was released as the second of three singles to promote the coming eleven-song mixtape. The main theme of it is that his head is in the clouds. He’s mentioned being in the clouds in several other songs, which include Just Being Me, Turn the Music Up, and Outcast. He raps a lot about how he’s not the average “Hollywood” rapper. He says he’s not chauvinistic, he doesn’t hang around phonies, drink codeine or the like, and isn’t really about trophies or being rich. He also raps a lot about how he’s done what others thought he could never do, and how he’s ‘shaken the whole [music] industry’. It’s comprised of an intro, a bridge after the 6th verse, and 7 verses of straight-rap. One of the four of the mixtape with a music video.
My thoughts: The song has a movie-like style (as do most of the songs in the mixtape). That along with the. . . odd flow and higher and wilder tone of NF’s voice really got me interested in the song when I first heard it. The flow and tone were different from NF’s usual style—CLOUDS’ release painted the style for the rest of the mixtape. If NF continues to use this style, I’ll definitely miss the old flow and tone (though all I have to do is listen to one of his older records ;)), but I’m excited for what’s coming next in his fifth record. Both NF and his music are experiencing exciting changes, but NF has continued his integrity and ethics.
2. THAT’S A JOKE
The song’s message & stats: THAT’S A JOKE is a lot about how people continually doubted (and still doubt) NF’s skill, but he always proves himself. How he is constantly getting better, and is well-suited and prepared for the intensity and danger of the music industry.
My thoughts: This is a decent song. I like it. But it seems to have less of a, let’s say. . . solid meaning to it, and it just seems like a joy-rap (like, joy-ride but joy-rap) for NF, especially since a lot of it is delivered incredibly fast. When talking to a friend, he/she pointed out that the theme of the song was ‘redundant’. I thought about that, and tend to agree. It also seems like an overused NF theme. A lot of his songs are about how deep he is in his other songs and how skilled and unstoppable he is.
3. JUST LIKE YOU
The song’s message & stats: From what I take of Spotify stats, JUST LIKE YOU is either the most popular song on the mixtape, or the second (CLOUDS would be theo ne to fill the spot JUST LIKE YOU doesn’t take). No surprise. The song’s main idea is this: Millions of us are going through very similar things as you, so don’t feel alone. We all fail and make mistakes, so when those things happen to you, know that it’s okay; we all go through it too. Don’t let the feeling of failure overtake you.
My thoughts: Wow, just writing the above makes my eyes feel hot and watery. The moment I listened to this masterpiece, I thought something like, “well now I know what my favorite song in this mixtape is”. It’s just so beautiful, and the message is so true and really good. Listen to it.
The song’s message & stats: This song is different from any other NF song, in the way that it is practically a movie but in song form, and really short (4 minutes and 39 seconds, the longest song of the mixtape). Hence, the name “story”. It’s about a woman named Erin who goes to a grocery store really early and– well, I’ll let the song explain it to you. I don’t want to give away any spoilers. 😉 Also, the song makes more more sense with the music video. Whether it’s a fictitious or factual story, I have no idea, and neither do most people, I think.
My thoughts: After I finished listening to the song for the first time, I kind of stared in shock for a few moments. It is intense, and I’m not even talking about camping (please tell me if you get that). Not to mention it’s like no other NF song, as I said above. I think it’s a pretty good song. Though, it’s a story, so I think I will treat it as such. In other words, it isn’t really the song to casually listen to. Another thought from the same friend I mentioned earlier is that this song points out that we don’t realize how much could change in just a few seconds. I believe that’s true, and it can be a reminder to cherish our moments and even the little things.
Content warnings (includes ones from the music video): Mention of drugs; blood, violence.
The song’s message & stats: This song NF wrote to someone specific. The lyrics of the song say that this person was someone who NF used to trust and be very close to, but they betrayed him in some way, and became prideful and jealous, therefore hurting and breaking his trust and their relationship. The identity of the other person is unknown. It could be a relative, former friend, ex girlfriend, ex coworker, or someone else. It has a simple structure: an intro, a verse, a chorus, another verse, the chorus repeated, and an outro, along with melodies.
My thoughts: I like it. It’s not INCREDIBLE, but it’s really good. This is a song anyone can easily sing/rap too. It’s not super speedy, but not that slow. I think that’s convenient because it’s a song that a lot of people could relate to. It’s a good.
The song’s message & stats: Apparently this song had been long anticipated by listeners (I myself have neither Twitter nor Instagram so I wouldn’t have known). NF collabed with Hospin for this song. NF said that it was supposed to be released earlier, but he got busy rescheduling The Search tours and concerts, and then performing them and stuff. This song also has a music video. My least favorite of the four, but it’s still cool. Both NF and Hospin teased the release of LOST a few times. As for the meaning of the song, NF and Hospin rap about being mentally lost.
NF verse meaning— He raps about what it means to be ‘lost’, and what a lot of people do when they’re lost. He raps about himself being lost, and what it’s like in his mind.
Hospin verse meaning— Hospin raps about how there are a lot of people who are after him and broken his trust, and he also explains some of his mental struggles.
My thoughts: I think this is one of NF’s most deepest songs in mixtape. One reason it’s one of the most popular in the mixtape, I think. It also features another deep rapper. A second reason why it’s more popular. A third reason is that it’s very relatable. Likely everyone in the world has gone through/is going through a feeling of being lost. Personally, I really like it. It’s not one of my favorites, but I do love listening to it.
The song’s message & stats: The shortest song in the mixtape, it’s more about himself, in a way, and is mostly about how NF has layers.
-So basically he’s an onion. Just kidding, hehe. If you get that reference, tell me!– Which ties back into the whole idea of the slogan “real music”, if that makes sense. By that I mean that he doesn’t just rap about, like, typical things such as money or fame, but he goes deep, and raps about different sorts of tough topics. Some character traits he mentions himself having (not all directly) are ambition, drive, soul, heart, rapping skill, religious beliefs, a mental cloud, and confusion. It’s a fairly unique song in that it is simply divided into 2 parts, with just a pause for music in between (you’ll see what I mean). The beginning of the song starts with a few sorrowful piano notes.
My thoughts: Definitely one of my favorites (but aren’t most of them?). It used to be one of those ‘decent NF songs’ but lately it’s grown on me. Every unique trait of it is awesome—the sorrowful beginning, the increased rapping speed near the end of part I, the tie between part I and II, the idea of a part I and II. . . There was one line that stood out to me that I liked: “This [is] a lil’ somethin’ to hold ‘em over for what’s next”. From what I understand, that means that the mixtape is just a snippet of music to keep us “occupied”, for lack of a better word, until he releases his next record, which will be soon, as he hasn’t released a record in a while. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for his coming album!
The song’s message & stats: This song is shaped in a regular manner, beginning with the chorus, a verse, the chorus again, a second verse, the chorus a third time, and an outro. But, similar to LAYER’s divide between part I and II, DRIFTING has a divide between the chorus and the outro composed of a simple piano solo. DRIFTING is mostly about NF’s struggles with strongly disliking himself, feeling insignificant, and how he’s just drifting. . . stuck in the same rut, not ever coming ashore, to a real conclusion or mental breakthrough. The outro brings a more hopeful message. He’s crying to God to pull him out of rut, and asking God to show him that he really is special, significant, and loved. This is similar to the mournful type of song you find prevalent in The Search.
This is a song a lot of people can relate to. Feeling lack of self-love, like they’re stuck in a rut, or like they’re just drifting. . . lost. I know I’ve felt some of these things. I know people who have felt these things. I do like how his lyrics turn back to God for the last part of the song.
The song’s message & stats: TRUST is NF’s fastest song. By that I mean he’s rapped faster in that song than in any other one of his songs. TRUST, which features rapper Tech N9ne begins with a melancholic violin solo. Then NF raps one very wordy but speedy verse, and sings (or, rather, shouts) the chorus. Next Tech N9ne also raps a very wordy but speedy verse, and NF finishes by ‘singing’ the chorus doubled. TRUST consists of almost exactly 1,200 words, which is pretty long, but it’s delivered in only 4 minutes and 24 seconds. From what I read, the average amount of words in a song is 100-300 and the average length of a song is 3 minutes and 30 seconds, so TRUST is pretty impressive.
It’s hard to tell what the meaning behind the song is. From what I observed by reading the lyrics and listening to the song, more effort was put into making the flow and delivery easier than writing deep and meaningful words. The only thing part of the song that seems to relate to the theme of trust is the chorus, which is kind of weak. Read or listen to it and you’ll know what I mean. It seems to be mostly about NF’s and Tech N9ne’s lives as artists, and their uniqueness and honesty.
My thoughts: Pluses for the speed, and minuses for the weaker theme. I really like the flow and tune of Tech N9ne’s verse. That’s about all I have to say.
10. PAID MY DUES
The song’s message & stats: PAID MY DUES was the first CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE) song released. It was released as a single in 2019, only around 5 months after The Search. In PAID MY DUES, NF raps about how so many more critics and haters than he had before appeared after he released The Search. Also about how he’s ‘paid my[his] dues’, and ‘made it through’, and will continue to stay making real music and being honest. One line I thought quite interesting in reference to critics pointing out his bad side is this: ‘They rigged the lights so y’all can see / The parts of mine that aren’t so bright’.
My thoughts: I think it’s a pretty good song. It has a similar theme to THAT’S A JOKE, but it’s a bit stronger and deeper, I think. The music video for it is really cool.
11. CLOUDS – Edit
The song’s message & stats: This is a repeat of the song CLOUDS that’s entirely the same except for the beginning: this one doesn’t have the whole long build up but CLOUDS does.
My thoughts: I like CLOUDS better than CLOUDS – Edit, but the pro of CLOUDS – Edit is that it has lowercase letters!!!
[I don’t think it needs a rating.]
My overall thoughts on the mixtape as a whole
I like the mixtape a lot! I don’t think I like it more than Therapy Session or Perception; there are many more songs in The Search than in CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE), so I can’t rightfully compare the two; and I think I like the mixtape more than Mansion.
I like the fact that he’s getting better at rapping faster, and I’m enthralled with the changes he’s made to his style. I like the themes of several of the songs, as well. Finally, I think the cover is awesome.
Two things that I find annoying about CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE) are. . .
1. The all-caps titles! They are just very annoying and I hope NF doesn’t stick with them. I MEAN, WHO USES ALL-CAPS THESE DAYS? I DEFINITELY DON’T.
2. The repetitions among the songs. There were several repetitions. First, the beginnings. Almost all of the songs start with a piano or violin solo, some odd vocal, or some other similar drawn out intro. JUST LIKE YOU is the only one that immediately begins with singing. To be honest, it’s getting pretty annoying. Or maybe that’s just me and I should mingle them up more with NF’s other songs and not play each mixtape song in a row. *shrugs*
Well, that’s all I have to say about CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE)! Whether you’re an NF fan or not, I hope you find at least one of his new songs enjoyable, if not all. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
With God’s help,
Daniel L. Amador