WHY by NF is an absolute masterpiece of a song that demonstrates an extremely high degree of pure bidirectional apprehension which is made even more powerful by the content being relatable to a lot of people at least at one point or another.
It's very important to understand that relating to just one or several of the portions of the song, or even the entire song but only in one point of view, does not demonstrate possessing pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value yourself. The song does however serve as a very strong foundation from which to elaborate on the concept in a more concrete way that can allow someone to attempt to understand the depth involved much better than probably any other way, largely because of the emotional impact and a sense of being able to relate that are conveyed through it.
Remember that there are actually two variants of pure bidirectional apprehension (refined and unrefined) and also due to the complexity of the concept there are a lot of lines that can actually be interpreted in two or even possibly more distinctly different ways.
"What's your definition of success?"
Right from the start, this is one of many lines that can be both actually posed as an actual question left unknown really even to himself but also seen as a rhetorical question that demonstrates the following content provides an explanation for the question being posed that he already knows the answer to.
The name of the song is WHY. With the very beginning starting talking about pondering success, that makes it clear that a critical part of his identity revolves around his perception and course of action towards success. This brings about many more questions that always come back ultimately to why does he even do what he does at all.
Succeeding in one's goals, and by extension clearly defining those goals and a road map to achieve them, is absolutely necessitated to facilitate achieving them.
"I don't trust the thoughts that come inside my head"
Constantly striving for success and trying to redefine it and shape it to see its true form and purpose in one's life requires a lot of not so much self-doubt but more so general doubt of pretty much everything.
In order to see things clearly, you have to constantly question what is even real, and only through doing that extensively can you actually start to see the way things really are. There are so many secrets and hidden messages all around you all the time that if you're not even aware that they are there and that you'll probably never really see every single one, then you'll never be able to try to properly understand the truth of the world around you with proper clarity.
This becomes even more apparent with the fundamental value proposition that there is always room for growth, improvement, and learning. Trusting the thoughts you have without carefully weighing all the possibilities and without remaining level-headed about situations will cause you to make sub-optimal decisions at best and very dangerous and/or costly decisions at worst, which depending on the circumstances can be really detrimental to the quality of your life short-term, long-term, and even potentially forever.
"I don't trust this thing that beats inside my chest"
A lot and maybe you could even say most people see fear as a purely negative emotion that you should aim to just completely get rid of or just try to suppress to the maximum extent possible.
The reality of the way life works is that trying your hardest to run from fear is actually counterproductive to the goal of ultimately liberating yourself from it, because you fail to realize and accept that in doing so you are actually feeding it and promoting it's growth and increasing it's power over you and your life.
Being able to see and accept all your emotions, positive and negative, is the only way that you're ever going to truly be able to overcome the negative ones and deal with the hand life dealt you in the most productive and healthy way within the constraints of your capabilities and limitations.
"Who I am and who I wanna be cannot connect, why?"
A lot of people can relate to feeling like who they'd like to be and who they are can't meet for one or more reasons, whether this drives them to attempt to make it happen or serves to eat away at any motivation to try.
This also ties strongly back to the previous two lines about not just trusting your mind or heart easily because if you trust them easily then you facilitate the continuation and possibly the increase in the severity of this disconnect that every individual without a core value of refined pure bidirectional apprehension will experience.
"Don't think I deserve it? You get no respect"
Seeing, understanding, and reacting to respect are all actually much more complicated than most people think.
There are many factors that come into play in all of these areas and most people consider respect something that's basically common sense but particularly in more complicated situations it's not so clear-cut. Even in less complicated situations, in several kinds of cases, people would react differently faced with the same situation if they were trying to act with their idea of being respectful in mind.
An individual with either variant of pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value has an acute sense of self-awareness and self-respect and as a result will recognize the appropriate nature of reciprocating a lack of respect in the most tactful way when faced with a lack of respect even in untactful ways, possessing the necessary intellectual and emotional control and maturity to handle unfavorable situations in a sharp and clear-headed way.
"I just made a couple mill, still not impressed Let You Down goes triple platinum, yeah, okay, okay, I guess Smile for a moment then these questions startin' to fill my head, not again!"
NF's foundation was not always so strong. He comes from a rough past where he dealt with abusive parents and he had his share of struggles and in the process of trying to prioritize and figure out what he really wanted and how to get it, he always reflects and in looking back realizes how foolish he feels for thinking that so many things he used to think would make him feel fulfilled and happy do not do so even after he has gotten them.
It's reached a point where he knows he could run from his problems but he can't run from himself and now he's taking a different approach to dealing with his problems because he sees his old solutions will no longer work.
The next 3 bars can be interpreted two distinctly different ways: A state of unanswered emotional conflict or a rhetorical question due to answered but unsatisfying conflicting life experience.
"I push away the people that I love the most, why?"
The first way to interpret this is as an observation that there is a massive disconnect in the way that he feels towards people and the way he ends up treating them and he's not really sure why but somehow it just feels emotionally right and that combination leaves him in a state of intense inner conflict.
The alternative interpretation is that he understands why this conflict exists, because the people he loves the most treat him very poorly and unfairly and so he pushes them away because they deserve it. However, he's left still feeling like he loves them and perhaps somehow that they love him back, and this leads to a very unsatisfying and emotionally conflicting scenario even more so than in the first interpretation because there is reasoning and understanding present but the emotional conflict exists despite that and is only in fact strengthened as a result.
"I don't want no one to know I'm vulnerable, why?"
The first way to interpret this is that he always has good intent and he knows that, but he's seen that acting openly and honestly that way just leads to people taking advantage of him so he feels like he needs to hide any vulnerability and it just feels so wrong that things are that way and is just left emotionally conflicted about what to do about it.
The alternative interpretation is that he's accepted that he hides his vulnerability because he knows he has to in order to avoid being taken advantage of and it makes sense to him up to that point but it still leaves him even more conflicted because then he's left wondering why things have to work that way since that still leads to an unsatisfying outcome that he feels distant from everyone and the same goal he tried to achieve by hiding his vulnerability is left just as unsolved if not even made worse by choosing to do so and it seems like even with thinking things through that there's no desirable outcome available.
"That makes me feel weak and so uncomfortable, why?"
The first way to interpret this is that he just vaguely feels weak and uncomfortable despite behavior he adopted to attempt to avoid feeling that way and as much as he thinks about it he still can't come up with a proper answer as to why those conflicting emotions still exist.
The alternative interpretation is that he knows and accepts that he acts the way he acts to avoid feeling weak and uncomfortable and it does help to some extent, but the fact is that even knowing what he's doing and why still leaves him with arguably even more unsatisfying answers and he's left feeling even more weak and uncomfortable as a result and he's left furious that trying harder to be both smart and a good person only leaves him even more hurt overall than just not giving a fuck and it really seems like the world shouldn't work that way but he clearly sees that's what's going on around him.
"Stop askin' me questions, I just wanna feel alive until I die"
This can also be interpreted two distinct ways.
The first is addressing the answer as if he's talking to a therapist trying to work through his emotional struggles and he's giving the simple emotionally resonating answer that just makes sense when trying to dig into his perception on the matter.
The second is as a self-response to his own questions he's posing to himself in self-reflection and telling himself to stop asking these questions to himself and try to just keep living life and trying to experience his way into answers or try to search for answers in a more productive fashion that doesn't just reiterate all the existing issues he's well aware of that only serves to feed his inner sadness and anger and therefore only make the problem worse and make him feel more dead inside.
"This isn't Nate's flow, just let me rhyme, I'm in disguise"
NF is actually his initials; his name is Nathan Feuerstein.
The first way to interpret this is that this song was not written entirely by him and he's admitting to it and showing that he's willing to do so either due to feeling a desire to himself or as a result of feeling pressured by the people who helped with this song. It serves to show the depth of truth in multiple other parts of the song as reflected on both NF himself as well as the other people who also contributed to the creation of this song.
The alternative, which only becomes more apparent as a possibility after listening to later parts of the song, is that he's referring to his fear. The fact that he feels like his fear controls him and its the fear, not even his genuine identity, that is the source of the bars he's rapping. Since the bars don't portray fear, it shows that the fear is disguised by the intensity of the subject matter.
The part about flow on its own can also refer to the sound of the flow of the bars resembling that of another rapper, although that's a more shallow interpretation. In that case, the words that follow could symbolize that he's opening up that even for how real he is in his raps, in a sense it's still a disguise and not the complete picture of who he is; something that would understandably be very frustrating to someone that really likes to keep things real.
"I'm a busy person, got no time for lies, one of a kind"
The whole purpose of this song is to provide an explanation of why he does what he does.
NF takes a very unconventional route in his approach to the kind of music he makes and the lyrics he puts into his songs and it leaves him exposed and vulnerable to the world in a much more deeply rooted emotional way than other artists. His music is very deep and real and he's saying clearly that one of the reasons he chooses this approach is because he has ambitious goals and sees only one effective way of achieving them and as a result he's constantly busy and takes a no-bullshit approach to life and this song is absolutely no exception to that.
"They don't see it, I pull out they eyes, I'm on the rise!"
The vast majority of individuals have active ego. In fact, literally every single person without refined pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value has some extent of active ego, even those with the unrefined variant (although in that case theirs is typically considerably smaller than that of anyone with a weaker core value, even if they choose to express themselves in a way that makes it seem that such is not the case).
Active ego causes a skewed perception of objective reality due to subjective bias and the only way to deal really effectively with that scenario when the stakes are high is effectively to basically brute force through that subjective bias wall and forcefully necessitate individuals with skewed perceptions of objective reality to face the truth that they are trying so hard to deny because they feel entitled to being able to do so simply because they are alive and capable without going to jail or other explicitly apparent severe repercussions.
"I've been doin' this for most my life, with no advice"
Since most individuals do not have either variant of pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value, that also means that by extension most individuals are not qualified to give advice (or at least any useful advice) to an individual who does.
The result is these individuals must figure out pretty much everything in their journey in life on their own and that causes emotional strain the longer it's going on. Having to do so for most of his life goes to show how severe the buildup of emotional strain has become at this point and further explains the depth of why this song is such an accurate representation of why he is the way he is.
"Take my chances, I just roll the dice, do what I like"
Pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value is already a considerably hard concept to grasp and really understand and apply in your life in general regardless of variant and there is also the issue of clearly distinguishing between variants and understanding and applying the difference between them as well.
One of the critical pieces of information to grasp understanding and applying it in your life is that the universe is fundamentally probabilistic (this understanding comes primarily from quantum physics) and what this means in practice is effectively accepting that ultimately nothing is truly guaranteed in life, for example there's literally no guarantee I'll wake up in the morning tomorrow, and the result is that you see life probabilistically instead of deterministically and weigh possibilities and advantages and disadvantages much more carefully and extensively instead of only seeking and accepting very concrete answers in life.
When done correctly, this is what facilitates a much more grounded mindset that allows one to see objective reality with a much greater degree of clarity and it really allows you to also understand the extent that knowledge is power. In the end, you make decisions you truly know are the best you can do and although it doesn't make you a completely wild animal you're still effectively doing what you like and "rolling the dice" of the hand that life dealt you.
"As a kid, I was afraid of heights, put that aside"
No crazy hidden message with this one, pretty straightforward.
Just like me, NF was scared of people and attention growing up because he dealt with a lot of abuse and trauma and didn't trust people in general so preferred to operate from the shadows for the most part if you will. However, despite no crazy hidden messages it's pretty straightforward as well how this is a very significant reason for the kind of seemingly crazy behavior that he demonstrates, much as it is in my case.
Having to not only deal with but completely overcome such an intense emotional burden puts you in a position where you know you can't just act and live normally and expect it to feel or work right. Everyone's life is different and this is a very significant difference that holds a lot more meaning to the person saying it from all the emotional experiences and personal thoughts on a wide range of topics than could ever easily be explained through the straightforward statement.
"Now I'm here and Nate looks so surprised, well so am I, woo! They don't invite me to the parties but I still arrive Kick down the door and then I go inside Give off that 'I do not belong here' vibe Then take the keys right off the counter and let's go for a ride Why do y'all look mortified?"
Because of the level of mental fortitude that an individual with pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value has, often people end up feeling various negative fear-based emotions such as jealousy and rage and the result is that the individual often feels uninvited or unappreciated in the presence of such people.
Since Nathan seems pretty okay with making it very apparent that he wasn't the only one involved in writing this track, it basically considerably adds to the epicness of it.
Alternatively, you can see it as Nathan referring to his fear being the entity talking to himself, exclaiming that he's surprised his fear still exists even for all he's achieved, and that even the fear itself is surprised that it's still there. It's this part where it starts seeming more plausible to consider the previous line about being in disguise as being a reference to Nathan's fear being what he sees as writing the words he's rapping in the song.
"I keep to myself, they think I'm sorta shy, organized"
Whether being an individual with the refined or unrefined variant of pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value, the very harsh and cutthroat nature of the world around you is very apparent to you. You're hypersensitive to many things and pay close attention to small details many others might overlook. You reserve judgement on any and everything without having looked at it from several different angles. You're more cautious with social interaction, particularly to people whom you don't know very well.
The result is that you may come off to many as somewhat shy, but you yourself know that it's not shyness but rather a careful and thorough nature that drives you to present yourself the way you do. With either, you're very aware you have to very carefully maneuver around interactions with people in order to find a careful balance between giving all that you can of yourself to your environment but also not being taken advantage of.
"Let You Down's the only song you've heard of? Well then you're behind"
NF was actually very much an underground artist until much more recently when his song "Let You Down", got radio play time and drastically increased his exposure and basically acted as his ticket to fame.
Basically, this line goes to show that yet another reason NF thinks and acts the way he does is because on top of having gone through the kind of shit he's had to go through and for many things is still going through, he also has to deal with the effects of the massive, sudden fame that he's now acquired and that brings its own set of responsibilities, emotional burden, and problems.
Most people only know him for one song and that one song is hardly at all a proper representation of who he really is, especially taking into account that each person who listens is going to interpret the song in their own way and therefore with their own degree of accuracy and depth.
"Story time, wish that I could think like Big Sean does, but I just can't decide If I should stick my knife inside of Pennywise"
This part shows the struggle NF has also with relationships and dating.
He's talking about the Big Sean song "I Don't Fuck With You" when saying he wishes he could think like Big Sean and basically just throw aside the girl he's currently having a ton of trouble with.
The music video makes multiple references to the movie "It" and here it's reflected in the lyrics as well. Pennywise is the name of the clown and basically the clown is evil and tried to steal people's identities and cause fear and doubt. The overall message here is that among the many struggles he's also dealing with, dating and relationships is not an area that's cutting him any slack either and yet again he's torn between trying to make things work and basically tossing the girl giving him so much trouble out of his life and effectively killing that fear and doubt that is slowly eating away at his identity.
This may seem on the surface like a stance purely filled with anger or hate but the reason why he's so conflicted is because this girl must mean so much to him and despite all the things she's put him through there must have still been a line she did not cross and as a result he still feels a lot of affection towards her and still wants to give her a chance to make it work if she can start behaving right.
This part can also be a reference to the Big Sean album "I Decided."
The next 3 bars are another scenario where there are 2 distinct interpretations that can be derived from the words.
"I, I don't care what anybody else thinks, lies!"
The first way to interpret this is that he really does care what people think but he just lies about it perhaps because either those around him are dishonest about it as well or because him being honest about it tends to cause people to try to take advantage of him for it.
The alternative interpretation is that he really doesn't care what people think because he sees that the things people around him tell him they think all just seem to be lies and he's tired of the bullshit that just makes him have thoughts and feelings that go nowhere positive and are better left not being had and not caring about.
"I do not need nobody to help me, lies!"
The first way to interpret this is that he does actually need people to help him but he feels weak being open and allowing his honesty to put him in a vulnerable position so he feels the need to lie about it so it doesn't send the wrong kind of message but that also leaves him emotionally conflicted and he doesn't really understand why things have to be that way.
The alternative interpretation is that he doesn't really need people's help but he sees people try to make it seem like he does or try to make him feel guilty about feeling like he doesn't so it all just comes off as lies to him and this is him kinda saying like he just doesn't wanna deal with it but it's so emotionally conflicting that the world is such a fucked up place that this kind of shit happens.
"I kinda feel guilty 'cause I'm wealthy, why?"
The first way to interpret this is that he really does just feel a vague guilt for being rich that he can't really explain and it's just something that bothers him enough that he finds it worth mentioning.
The alternative interpretation is that he sees people are trying to make him feel guilty for being rich and he knows very well it comes from a place of jealousy and them trying to bring him down and he asks it more so rhetorically to send the message that he knows what they're doing and it definitely has an impact on him but perhaps not the kind that those people may expect or want.
It's only one bar in the whole song so relatively it also shows that while it's something that's present it's not really that big of a deal compared to all the other things he has to deal with.
"I don't understand, it's got me questionin' like, why? Just tell me why? Not back to this flow Inside I feel divided Back when I ain't had a dime, but had the drive Back before I ever signed, I questioned life, like, 'Who am I, man?' Woo!"
This part just goes to show further how he thought initially that achieving the goals he first set out to achieve would bring immense satisfaction and although it's not everything he thought it would ever be, he also can come to terms with it in a large way because he also knows that he's doing the best he can to work with what he's got and he knows as conflicted as several aspects of his life may make him feel, he still has a solid foundation now that he can be proud of and continue to make the right moves to move forward in a positive way that can still make it all worth it in the end.
This is another part where he talks about his flow and a resemblance can be seen between it and the flow from "Bounce Back" in Big Sean's "I Decided" album.
"Nothin' to me's ever good enough I could be workin' for 24 hours a day and think I never did enough My life is a movie but there ain't no tellin' what you're gonna see in my cinema I wanna be great but I get it in the way of myself And I think about everything that I could never be Why do I do it though?"
This part shows the extent of his drive and passion to achieve and exceed the expectations that he sets for himself and shows that instead of just sitting there suffering while going through all his struggles, he is able to take it as a challenge he feels capable of handling and keep pushing on through to thrive.
The question posed at the end is purely rhetorical and when interpreted correctly serves to show that although it seems like he has so much reason to question his desires and goals that he faces that head-on and uses it as fuel to keep going instead of like a shackle that holds him back.
"Why you always lookin' aggravated?"
This can actually be seen from 3 different angles: Someone else posing the question to him, him posing the question to himself with genuine desire for introspection, and him posing the question rhetorically to further demonstrate the extent of his struggles.
In the case of someone else posing the question to him, it shows how this state of constant aggravation that results from all the struggles he constantly deals with has now snowballed externally to people judging him for simply existing and carrying himself the way he does and despite all his attempts to be a good person life basically bitch slapped him in the face for it and how other people see him carry himself constantly for it is yet another thing he has to deal with.
The interpretation of posing it internally for introspection serves to show how even still it's a constant struggle on how to present himself given everything he's been through.
The interpretation of rhetorical presentation shows the extent of the depth that such a seemingly simple statement serves to demonstrate to a more intellectually and emotionally mature individual.
"Not a choice, you know I had to make it"
If the last statement wasn't enough of a slap in the face, yet again this bar shows how struggle after struggle the smarter you try to be and the harder you strive for excellence and being a good person, the harder life tries to suppress and oppress you to the point that it becomes a point in itself as one of the reasons to carry yourself in such a way that most people can barely begin to scratch the surface of fully understanding.
"When they talk about the greatest, they gon' probably never put us in the conversation"
Well, NF mentioned earlier about not being the only one involved in writing this song.
This goes back to show that once again, that earlier statement wasn't just some random gimmick to leave people questioning what he even really meant, he's boldly proclaiming that although he's clearly the only one explicitly taking credit for the song, there are indeed other people involved.
Additionally, it can be seen as his fear talking and exclaiming how people will talk about Nathan but not address him and his fear together when they talk about him, likely being inclined to ignore thinking about or addressing the fear that drove what he appears to possibly even be stating wrote as much as the entire song.
This adds to the power of the message explaining why he is the way he is as is the intent of this song. It also goes to show the tension between him and those other people or even perhaps his own fear, because whoever he's addressing naturally would be unsettled that they don't get explicit credit for all of their efforts and he is simultaneously showing his fear in regards to the potential outcomes of such a situation as it's playing out.
"Like somethin' then I gotta take it Write somethin' then I might erase it I ain't love it then I really hate it What's the problem, Nathan? I don't know!"
Individuals with pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value are extremely driven to achieve and exceed expectations.
Notice how I said driven and not motivated.
Motivation is garbage. It comes and goes, if some kind of short-term emotional stimuli exists to push it then it's present, but after that fades, so does the motivation.
Drive works on pull.
Being pushed to do something means you're consciously forcing yourself and effectively working against your nature in order to achieve something you're going after. Being driven means you're pulled to it and you're actually working with your nature as opposed to against it and that allows you to work much harder, more effectively, and in a sustained manner, which facilitates much better results.
Working deeply and effectively in this state also means that you may end up trying many different approaches as potential solutions and possibly fail many times when tackling a problem but you will keep trying different things until something finally works the way you need it to. For the purposes of explaining why he is the way he is, this portion serves to represent the constant pressure that being in that state causes, even if you adapt to it.
"I know I like to preach to always be yourself But my emotions make me feel like I am someone else Me and pride had made a pact that we don't need no help Which feels like I'm at war inside myself but I forgot the shells I hold my issues up for all to see, like show and tell A lot of people know me, but not a lot know me well"
A person with pure bidirectional apprehension as a core value, whether refined or unrefined, is an individual extremely hard to read and understand, especially to someone who does not possess the core value themselves.
They go through a lot of struggle but the struggle is impressive to have overcome and to them they have an explanation that demonstrates power they gained through it which makes them hold it up to the world with pride as opposed to trying to hide it out of shame.
This can also be further used to be in reference of not only Nathan's fear but fear as an emotion in general; in much the same fashion that it can be considered Nathan is expressing that his fear wrote several lines in the song, this line may also be one of them. Nathan is expressing his intense and deep experiences with fear, to the level of opening himself up to such a significant extent throughout this song as he has in many others. He's expressing that not a lot of people know being afraid the way he does.
This is indeed true, as Nathan possesses a core value of pure bidirectional apprehension of at the least the unrefined variant, and as such individuals perceive and interact with fear in a way drastically different from the vast majority of people, he's indeed correct about his assertion that not a lot of people know fear as well as he does.