Does NF Fire Back at Eminem’s “The Ringer” with ‘Returns’?
Last year Eminem dropped his surprise album Kamikaze and basically took aim at everyone who panned him, slighted him, or got him angry. For Eminem, it was a return to signature form. To others, it was drama for the sake of relevancy. And to NF fans, it was WAR.
NF has been receiving Eminem comparisons for years. It’s kind of a badge of honor for white emcees at this point. Without diving into those comparisons, it appeared Marshall Mathers took aim at the younger artist who is currently in a numbers battle with Chance the Rapper for No. 1 album. Here’s what Em rapped on “The Ringer”:
It’ll help me get back to myself and she’ll love me (ooh-ooh)
I mailed the b**** back and said if I did that
I’d just be like everyone else in the f****** industry
Especially aN eFfing Recovery clone of me”
Now say that last line slowly…an effing Recovery clone. NF-ing Recovery clone. You may think this is a reach, but Em has no trouble dropping F-bombs so why say “effing” here? Also, in the ad-lib, he says “N-Fing, ha.” Someone as skilled in rhyme and as precise as him knows exactly what he’s doing. NF doesn’t swear and neither did Em.
Let’s leave those lines and that story at that. To dive deeper into that Eminem diss, check out the write up from last year here.
Now, let’s focus on NF’s song “Returns” off his new album The Search. It’s been a little while since that “alleged diss” came out and you would think it got back to NF. Everyone seems to be focusing on the following lines:
There ain’t no I in team, but drop the T and A
Sometimes, if I’m being honest, feels like it’s only me
No defeat, notably, better have it right if you’re quoting me
Write my name on your hit list, it might be the last time you wrote something
Rip that cocky smile right off your face for thinking you’re close to me
Grab a can of gasoline, light it all over your self-esteem
Selfishly watching y’all helplessly pretend you’re on my planet
Shoot you out of the sky like you’re punchlines, you are not landing
Drop the T and A from team and you have EM. (Eminem). This line is a bit iffy because of what he says in the follow up of it feeling like “only me.” Drop the T and A and then flip the E and M and get ME. I don’t know about this here…
Next line he says “no defeat,” okay, he wasn’t beaten by Eminem but Em never quoted him. So this is probably about someone else.
Now finally, we get into something of substance. Eminem definitely had a hit list on Kamikaze – Joe Budden, Machine Gun Kelly, Tyler the Creator, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, and on and on with NF presumably being there too. However, saying “it might be the last time you wrote something” doesn’t make sense because Eminem “arguably” has the greatest “rhyme pen” of all-time.
The next line seems fueled by Eminem fans who say NF can’t touch Em’s lyrical ability. NF is like, “Nah, I can, and watch.” BUT, if you know anything about Eminem, he doesn’t really smile even if it’s cocky. So, this line is uncertain also, it could be about anyone.
The next two lines are filler to reinforce the “thinking you’re close to me line before ending with maybe the second most compelling shot. Eminem’s Kamikaze album featured a plane on the cover. So NF is shooting it out of the sky so he can’t land. Here’s a flip though, a kamikaze plane doesn’t land because it takes a suicide dive into a target. Therefore, you can’t shoot something that already is crashing into a target. The sentiment by NF, if intended, rings though.
Combing through the song, there are a few other moments that might be shots. Here are some that stick out.
There’s bullets formed in my mind, they come out my mouth and (Pow, pow, pow)
For anyone out there doubting or acting mouthy (Watch, watch, watch)
Forget what you heard about me, I’ve been astounding (God, God, God)
Something for you thinking you might run circles ’round me
Eminem has a whole hook where he talks about being the “greatest and amazing.” Here NF says he’s “astounding. When the diss dropped people were saying NF shouldn’t respond because Em would rap circles around him.
You got fans, but not like I do, yeah
Thankful, I try to be, can’t contain what’s inside of me
They don’t like this side of me ’cause I lack in compliancy
I question what I can see if you’re not playing my CD
Eminem super fans are called “Stans” and while not sure what NF fans call themselves, they are certainly “Stans” in their own right. These are two of the most loyal fanbases of any artist out there. This CD line is the biggest stretch of them all. This is really grabbing at straws here, but in “The Ringer” Eminem talks about mailing back a copy of Marshall Mathers LP to a fan which leads him to say he’s not trying to be “NF-ing Recover clone of me.”
Then you have the whole “The Ringer” and “Returns” whereas maybe he’s “returning” the shots.
Alright, so here is the breakdown. We received a lot of emails and tips from people over the weekend so we took a deep dive. From the above evidence, it seems plausible and possible that NF answered Eminem, but it does not appear as definite and definitive as the first hit from “The Ringer.” There are subtle references that could apply to Eminem. Usually, the next line in the scheme kind of debunks that first one or doesn’t make sense regarding Eminem. In good conscience, it’s hard to call this a response because these arrows could be aimed at anyone.
So for the sake of sanity and all that is pure, holy, and sacred, let’s get back to focusing on the real message of music and speaking about things that matter!
Listen to NF Below:
This is 100% my opinion and interpretation. I enjoyed The Search and feel it’s NF’s best work to date. To keep it a buck, I didn’t even notice anything in “The Return until people started talking about it. I would have to give this a “no” on the diss.
So what do you think? Let us know in the comments.