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Review: NATE – Common Folk Deluxe (Review)

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Hailing from San Francisco, Nate is the latest artist to take the underground scene by storm. In October 2012 he released his first single ‘Them Days’, which featured on many popular websites such as Complex magazine, xxlmag and MTV. In the same year he released his debut mixtape ‘Common Folk’. Nate returns this time around with the Common Folk (Deluxe), a renewal of his previous mixtape with two new songs ‘Do I’ and ‘Backwards’.

From the intro ‘I Am That I Am (Intro)’, we get to know Nate as an introspective drop out, who has “learned more from people than any text booknate page.” There are a number of themes which foreshadow the album, which include social struggles, family, honesty and social individualism. We get a clear sense of who Nate is and become accustom to his environment. The instrumentation is a slow, progressive beat with a female singer providing something that sounds like a tribal calling a warm welcoming to the album.

‘Working Class Heaven’ is a song about dreams of elevating oneself from the restrictions and constraints of social economic statuses. Nate tells the story of a mother who wants to travel and see the world. Nate describes the struggle in a beautiful way, “Want it so bad this fantasy you get lost in, can quickly turn your heaven to hell/when you spend every waking moment wishing it was real”. The content is sad but the energy of the song, from the angelic singing to the instrumental is uplifting and hopeful.

Throughout the album Nate’s story is told through the narratives of those around him. This is seen in ‘Live It Through Me’, where Nate reflects on his uncle’s past as a musician and not fulfilling his dreams. Compared to the previous track, this feels more personal and introspective, dealing with the fear of failure, exceeding expectations set by family members and turning down your Inner critic.

A personal highlight is ‘Them Days’ from the start of the production which feels almost magical to the hard hitting lyrics “Don’t you hate that moment in your life when you tryna do good and everything that could go bad around you, did so like it should”. This is the theme music which gives a glimpse of Nate’s everyday life. Our introduction to Nate, the struggle is delivered in an optimistic way, Nate raps in the chorus “At least we living”. The hope in Nate’s songs is what makes him such a convincing and charismatic MC”.

‘Do I’ is a new track featured on the Deluxe edition, the synthy back and forth track sees Nate move towards a more radio and female friendly sound. Questioning his relationship, Nate sings a pretty decent chorus “Do I love you or am I scared to be alone again/ Do I need you is it all in my head.” Sonically it’s good to see a diversity in Nate and although most of his songs centre on the struggle, ‘Do I’ is a solid cross over song, which helps the Common Folk experience.

Overall the album is strong piece of work by Nate; his rhymes give an insight in to the person he currently is and the person he wants to become. The album centres on the social, class and personal struggles of Nate and those around him. The album title ‘Common Folk’, is an analysation of society but also of Nate; being a “Common Folk” doesn’t mean to be average or mundane, it is a phrase for someone with hopes and dreams of wanting more. Not escaping from your background but also not being restricted by it as well, ‘Common Folk’ is the perfect underdog story and the sense of personality and optimism in Nate’s music makes for a very solid debut.

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