I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Paralyzed" by NF mean?

What does "Paralyzed" by NF mean?

“Paralyzed” Lyrics Meaning

(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)

NF’s song “Paralyzed” is about depression, and it's very very sad, which is unique for a rapper who's a little bit more well-known for how angry, intense, and energetic he can get; but “Paralyzed” has a deeper meaning, it's really powerful, and I want to explain it to you.

This is the last part of an NF series that we're doing; overall this song is an exploration of NF’s feelings when he feels depressed; and for him depression seems to have a lot to do with being frozen, not feeling anything, feeling immobilized, the word ‘paralyzed’ does it justice, because he's just not moving or doing anything, and neither does he feel like moving or doing anything. In the first verse we hear,

Verse One

When did I become so numb?
When did I lose myself?
All the words that leave my tongue
Feel like they came from someone else

not only all of that paralysis and coldness, but he is also feeling a sense of disassociation, like he doesn't really even feel like he's in charge of what he's doing. In the chorus he sings,


I'm paralyzed, where are my feelings?
I no longer feel things, I know I should
I'm paralyzed, where is the real me?
I'm lost and it kills me inside, I'm paralyzed

which gives the overall theme or concept of the song. I would have to say that this song isn't super complicated, but I think that it's really powerful in what he shares, especially coming from a guy who probably most of our experience with him is him being like super angry, either at his mom, or her boyfriend, or at just kind of like people in general who don't take him seriously; and so for him to get vulnerable, and to admit that he sometimes feels like this, especially when his image is so dependent on him saying “Man, I'm an intense rapper, and I'm going to get lots of raps done; lots and lots of raps!”; I think it means a lot that he would also take the time to put together a song that dives a little bit deeper into how he feels when he's not on his game.

In verse two he says,

Verse Two

When did I become so cold?
When did I become ashamed? (ohh)
Where's the person that I know?
They must have left; they must have left, with all my faith

so this person that he knows, the person who is him, has gone, and it's challenging his faith; and I think probably the most interesting line in this verse is when he says “when did I become ashamed?”; because I think that the sense of guilt and shame is definitely something that goes in along with depression. It can sometimes just feel like a black hole that you're sinking into, where there's just not a whole lot of reason to go and do something; and I think that NF captures that really well. Then we get into the bridge; and this is where he gets a little bit more into rapping rather than melodic singing, and so he says,


I'm paralyzed
I'm scared to live, but I'm scared to die
And if life is pain then I buried mine
A long time ago, but it's still alive

whenever you repress things, it doesn't actually get rid of them, and they will bubble up sooner or later. Then he continues,

And it's takin' over me, where am I?
I wanna feel somethin', I'm numb inside
But I don't feel nothin', I wonder why
I'm in the race of life and time passed by
Look, I sit back and I watch it
Hands in my pockets
Waves come crashin' over me, but I just watch 'em
I just watch 'em

them I think that last line is a really powerful one; he's like “things are happening to me, some are bad and some are good, but it's like I'm not feeling them, I'm not experiencing them, I'm just observing them!”; which is more of like an analytical cold distant perspective; and then finally we have,

I'm underwater but I feel like I'm on top of it
I'm at the bottom and I don't know what the problem is
I'm in a box, but I'm the one that locked me in
Suffocatin' and I'm runnin' out of oxygen

first, can we appreciate how good those rhymes are? top of it, problem is, and locked me in, oxygen; well, he's a really good writer, guys; speaking of which, you should go check out that “how to write lyrics that looks like NF” course, the link is down there.

Self-promo aside, this is some really good stuff, I think he's in a box, and “I'm the one that blocked me in”, I think that's so powerful, because it's so easy to be like “yeah, depression happened to me” or to say that depression was caused by something else; but now you’re seeing that he's says that he's the impetus, and that can mean so many different things, depending on your own experience with depression; it can be how you feel like you're the one who just let yourself stay in that depressive state, it could also be how maybe you made decisions that brought this upon you; and I think that's kind of the whole thing with depression, that it's easy to feel ashamed, as if though it was something you brought upon yourself, or it's easy just to feel stuck, and locked in there; and at the very least not you know locking yourself in there is kind of a reference to not letting yourself out, not taking the right steps to get out, and so you kind of continue to keep yourself locked in; and yeah, I think that NF did a really good job on these lyrics here; it's a really good picture of what the paralysis of depression looks like.

Finally, don't forget to check out the “how to write lyrics like NF” course, if you want to write songs and lyrics just like him, as NF is such a good songwriter.

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