NF – Paid My Dues (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)

The Michigan-based rapper, NF, is back with a brand new and surprise single “Paid My Dues” fashioned with an eerie music video. This new release follows the rapper’s July 2019 album release ‘The Search,’ and we can see that NF is quite hurt in these lyrics. What does “Paid My Dues” mean? Let us breakdown the lyrics.

Although “Paid My Dues” seem to address the hate and critics received for NF’s 2018 album ‘The Search,’ the shocker is that he actually teased the song title a year ago in December 2017. In an Instagram post, showing NF’s signature black smile, the rapper captioned ‘PMD’ an abbreviation for the December 2019 release. Maybe he always had haters, and the reviews for ‘The Search’ album just heightened his need to release the new song.

NF released a music video for the track along with its debut on December 3, 2019. The music video shows several NFs, possibly hinting at his multiple personalities. These clones seem to appear out of nowhere, much like his personalities adjusting to the situation.

“Paid My Dues” Video Easter Eggs

In the locker room scene, three NFs appear from the lockers on top of the main protagonist singing the song. These four seem to represent NF throughout his musical career of four albums. These different NFs have different looks that are taken from his various appearances in the previous albums music videos. From left to right, the first Nate represents the rapper from his 2017 ‘Perception’ era. The second NF with the boots is taken from the 2016 ‘Therapy Session’ era. The third NF, sitting on the floor and holding black balloons, is from the 2019 ‘The Search’ era. The fourth and final NF, who is suited up, is from 2012 ‘I’m Free’ album era.

Watch “Paid My Dues” Video by NF

Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Paid My Dues” by NF

Verse 1

In the first verse, NF sets the background to the song. At the beginning of the verse, he uses some effective rhyming patterns to express his views on the subject. “Clicks” are what runs the online game–be it advertising, promotion, popularity, earnings, fame and everything else. A lot of people will do a lot less for more and more clicks. “Ticks” are a common denominator of time passing. It also references to the countdown of a timed bomb which he equates to his head being exploded listening to all the reviews of “music gurus” on his album ‘The Search.’

NF talks about how the “music gurus” of popular entertainment magazines such as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and The New York Times had their own bubbles of negative verdicts about his album. He is saddened that people who put up these articles get paid to “trash” artists whereas artists like himself work really hard to pen each and every song.

NF knows that he should not pay any attention to these “opinions,” but sometimes it gets to him. After all, he is human as well.

Verse 2

In the second verse of “Paid My Dues,” NF says that he is the rapper and these music “critics” should leave the wordsmith game to him. “To pick up the bars, you gotta be smart,” NF drops a bomb on all the reviewers who had some genius remark to comment about his album.

NF confesses that he does not write about rainbows and butterflies. Instead, his music is a reflection of his inner-self that he is fighting a war with. He admits that he has mental issues and he thinks music is one outlet that could help him conquer it. To attack one man’s solace is a critical sin.

In the chorus of the song, NF lets everyone know that he is on the lose now. Don’t try to get in his way and you will be facing some real wrath. “Paid My Dues” is the first sign of NF breaking lose, and he is crazy enough as is.

Verse 3

In the final verse of the song, NF says he is not one to back down from any critique. He may be facing some comments of “music gurus” on some online blog, but he has faced worse. He has faced ‘life’ and took it down by the horns. So, some remarks on a website are not really going to take him down. NF says that he is not one to flee from failure or confrontation.

NF realizes that there is no arguing with these people. They claim to know your shoe sizes, but when it comes to actually get into one, they realize the shoes are not their type. These “critics” are not there to listen. They are there to critique. NF says that he will “accept advice if it’s not presented ignorantly,” which is an unlikely case with these critics.

NF could ask these critics to take a visit into their own minds, but his words would be in vain! These critics are good at one thing and one thing only–critiquing. So he decides to stay shut and stay put rather than going after them. Because if he does, it would not end very well for, probably, either of them.

NF is on an open-war mindset in “Paid My Dues” song and it is best not to trigger a troubled mind any further. Music, by any artist, is meant to be enjoyed. Every song will not be your cup of tea. So why do you try to sip it? When you taste the distaste in the drink, move on, until you find your flavour! Let the artists do their work.

Let us hear your thoughts on the meaning of “Paid My Dues” by NF in the comments below.

Adam McDonald

Hi! I am the founder and lead author and editor of Justrandomthings music community. A vast range of personal interests from Hip-Hop to Country to Hard Rock and Punk music will keep you entertained.

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