What does "Leave Me Alone" by NF mean?
“Leave Me Alone” Lyrics and Music Video Meaning
(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)
Today we'll be talking about "Leave Me Alone" by NF, which he has just recently dropped; he's got a really cool music video for it, and there's a lot to these lyrics as well; so let's go ahead and start with the music video.
Music Video Meaning
Essentially, we see NF with the shopping cart, with the black balloons tied to it; he's got the smudges of the black smile on his face; but he's coming to this place that looks like it was supposed to be a retreat, but it looks kind of dumpy and dirty; all around him staring are people in white, some holding few black balloons, some people have the little smudges on their faces as well, and there's also other people in black, with shopping carts like NF; so it seems to me like there are different people at different phases at whatever this process is; it's like at some point you lose the shopping cart, the black clothes, the black balloons, and/or the black smile; and then trade it in for something else; sometimes it's the white clothes, sometimes you just give the balloons away; but he goes in there, and there's a lot of processes happening all around him, like there's a process where people are getting the new clothes, process to get rid of the black balloons, process where they are getting rid of the fake smiles, right?
I think that a lot of these have to do with certain things that NF struggles with; we have talked about the shopping cart in a video before, and we said that the shopping cart is like a portable cage, seems to be that same cage he was in in "Perception"; so he got rid of the big cage, but kept the little one, and it's got wheels, so it can go with him wherever he goes; and I hope you're sensing the irony here, you know! That's probably like a message about what it's like to heal, but to still hold on to the old things, the old vices, or the bad thoughts. The balloons he actually references to in this song, they are doubts, and so they could have to do with fears, or just things that he's struggling with, things that he doesn't want to have to let go; and we see NF in the music video at the end taking two balloons off the cart, and he is handing them to somebody else; but he's like looking away, and he's faltering, not really sure that he can do it; and so these are obviously psychologically very deeply tied into who he is, so it's very difficult to part with them; but essentially, it seems like this place that we see in the music video is an opportunity to come clean of those things that are holding a person back; what this process is, and what it really looks like internally; well, NF doesn't give us a lot of details about. The one thing I will notice is that the people who are wearing white, the ones who don't have the smudges, who don't have the balloons, or the shopping carts, all of those people, none of them really look happy; so that's my one big question or concern, I really want to understand where this music video is going; but it's definitely interesting, and it seems to me at first at least that this is going be about some kind of a healing process; as he lets go of those old burdens; and I would fully expect to see another music video drop to tell the rest of this story.
Let's go ahead and talk about the lyrics now; we're going to talk about a few selections, because oh god, he says a lot; so there'd be a lot to cover if we were going to do every single line; but essentially let's start with this one here,
I went from nobody to kind of famous
Hide my plaques inside the closet, I just can't explain it
My wife, she tells me that she's proud and thinks that I should hang 'em
But I just leave 'em on the ground right next to my self-hatred
Really interesting; like these momentous symbols of the accomplishments that he's done with his music, he puts them at the same level of the self-hatred, and is not willing to celebrate; there's something really sad about that, and something I think a lot of us can empathise with. He then continues,
Yeah yeah mental health, where's my mental health?
Diagnosed with OCD what does that mean? Well, gather 'round
That means I obsessively obsess on things I think about
That means I might take a normal thought, and think it's so profound
I'm not an expert on OCD; but he's talking about a mental disorder, where you take something that you do think, and all of a sudden you become obsessed with it; and probably when he says that it sounds so profound, like it feels real, whatever that thought is. I am not going to give examples here, because I think that this could just get really messy; but he basically has thoughts that he can't get rid of in his head; and they become compulsive.
Ruminating, filled balloons are full of doubts
Do the same things, if I don't, I'm overwhelmed
Thoughts are pacing, they go 'round and 'round and 'round
So doing the same thing, those patterns; that's kind of a something that we associate with OCD a lot, you know? You have to do this exact same thing every time; like you have to touch the light switch the exact same way every time you walk in the room, you have to have the volume at a certain number, you have to count till three before you do anything, stuff like that; and he says that if he doesn't, he gets overwhelmed; and those thoughts that are pacing, that's kind of those compulsive thoughts that he has to struggle with; then we get to the pre-course, and there's a lot going on the pre-course; it really does a good job of summarizing the theme of the song.
Hold up my balloons and cover up my face
I can feel them weighin' on me every day
I should let 'em go and watch 'em float away
But I'm scared if I do, then I'll be more afraid
If he lets go of those doubts, those fears, those insecurities, or whatever they are; and it's odd that they're balloons, but there are also weights, so I wonder if there's some ironic message in there; but he's afraid that if he does that, he will be missing something, he feels like he needs them, he's dependent on these fears; and I think that we can all really empathise with that; like there are things we believe about ourselves that keep us from being who we really are; and we wonder, or maybe we don't even know to wonder, like if I let go of this, if I stopped thinking this about myself, who could I actually become?! We wonder if we were who we were supposed to be; but instead, we hold into these crippling fears that reduce us to fractions of what we could be.
Tell them how I feel, but they don't want to change
Tell them how I feel, but they remain the same
Loosen up my grip, they say that's not okay
So he is talking to the balloons or the doubts; and he starts to let go; but some of those doubts are like "no, you can't let us go, because we're a part of you"; then he says,
Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, ayy, leave me alone! (Oh!)
Who is he talking to there?! He might be lashing at loved ones who try to help, sure; but he could also be talking to those balloons, or those racing thoughts that just won't leave him alone; I mean he could be saying like "no, leave me alone; I want to be apart from you guys". Then we continue into verse two; and he's talking to his doubt essentially here, and he says,
I hate when they debate if we're underrated
We're so overlooked that they're lookin' over our numbers, Nathan
We don't do enough interviews or go out in public lately
We don't post enough on our socials
To keep the buzz from fading
So his thoughts and doubts keep asking if "Am I going to lose the fame that I've garnered? Am I not going to be as successful, just because I'm not pushing that?"
Let it fade, yeah, let it fade
Once it's decimated, then you drop a song outta nowhere
And all the fans embrace it
Then the buzz will surface again, it's part of my operation
I don't need advice from my doubts right now
End of conversation
Trying to go back to that inner vision for what's going to happen; instead of letting his fears guide him; which is a really powerful example to set. He finishes verse two by singing,
I keep it together but have a disorder
I go to my room and sit in my corner
And I talk to myself in a language that's foreign
I think of a rhyme and I have to record it
But know if I don't, I'll wake up in the mornin'
And question my life again, always avoidin'
And I hate to be different, but hate to be normal, so I…
And then he goes back to the pre-chorus. It really sounds like he's saying that if he doesn't go and write music, he doesn't get the self-therapy that he needs to be able to process those thoughts and move past them; instead he gets stuck in them; and that's the OCD coming back to haunt him.
Finally we have a selection from verse three that's really important; and this is where he talks about his experience with fame; so essentially he refers to a previous album on a song no-name; and he says,
Remember back in "NO NAME", I said fame called?
Told you I hung up, it kinda felt wrong
Finally called him back, we didn't talk long
He asked me how I'd been, I sent him this song
Yeah, think he took offense, he kinda seemed off
I texted him that night to ask what he thought
It took a couple days to get a response
But once I finally did, he said this song sucks
So basically "Fame" called him up, trying to tempt him, you know? But he's not sure if he wants to be famous; like he really doesn't want to go in for the fame; that sort of like self idolization or self-glorification isn't something that he's about; but he talks to fame, being friendly, kind of flirting with danger essentially; and he sends fame this song, and fame's like "no that's crap"; and so I think what's being said here is that you try to be famous, but you're still trying to be true to yourself; well, those two are going to come into conflict, and one is not going to like the other; so basically you got to be true to yourself, or you got to look for fame; because you can't be actively trying to do both. I think that's what's being said here anyway; the song continues on, and ends with the pre-chorus, and the chorus; and it is just him asking for quiet, and "leave me alone".
I would say that the overall message of the song is something that we've seen from NF a lot recently; him kind of identifying who he is, explaining that to us, kind of in the context of the rap game, and his own growth and development as an artist, along with a lot of messages about where he's at mentally; we got to hear him specifically talk about OCD on this one, and I felt like compared to a lot of songs you've been getting recently, this was very specific, and very transparent with his audience, which was really really cool; and so I appreciated that, him getting a little bit more detailed about some of the stuff that he is going through; obviously we're being very metaphorical and symbolic with the balloons, but it's getting more and more obvious with every music video, I think. So there's some really cool stuff here; and if I had to summarise this song in one sentence, I would basically say "NF talks about being himself, and what it's like, in several different ways"; talking about his relationship to fame, talking about his doubts, talking about his disorder, talking about his marketing strategies, and just coming into his own and who he is.
Anyway guys I hope that you enjoyed this explanation of NF's "Leave Me Alone"; you can go check out the music video by clicking on the link down below. There will be a lot more NF explanations, so keep an eye for that. This album has a lot to say, and we are going to be hear to listen and talk about it.