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    Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    #ThemeSongTuesday: The Search (For A New RAW Theme) Is Over

    Monday Night RAW
    had its season premiere today (Manila time) and while it technically doesn't mean anything because WWE has no offseason, it did serve to introduce (or in some cases, reintroduce) their selections from last week's WWE Draft. It also dropped a brand-new OBB (opening billboard or in some shows', opening credits) and as soon as I clicked play, I just marked the fuck out.

    The new RAW opening theme is "The Search" by NF, an American rapper who can trace his musical origins to Christian hip-hop. You can see some Christian/religious themes in his earlier work, but his singles—especially those that are known in the mainstream like "Let You Down," "When I Grow Up," and "Time" are more secular in nature. NF himself doesn't like being called a Christian rapper, instead, he said in an interview with urban culture website Jam The Hype: "I'm a Christian, but I don't make Christian music. You're not going to reach everyone with just one point of view. I write about things I'm actually dealing with. You don't have to be Christian to relate to them."

    From that quick clip of "The Search" that WWE used in the new RAW OBB, you can get a sense of his style as an MC. The easy comparisons are Logic and Machine Gun Kelly, mostly because of his rat-tat-tat cadence and how he's able to break his flow and then pick up in an unnatural way to start a new bar. Once you notice that in his songs, including "The Search," best believe this dude was inspired by the Rap God himself, Eminem.

    NF's songs are like introspective essays about what goes on in his mind. Unlike most MCs, he doesn't need to rely on expletives as crutches, much less to make a point. Just like his idol Eminem, NF tends to reference his own past works in songs. For example, he references "Let You Down" in "WHY," implying that that's the only song most people know from him. Eminem does that a lot in his discography, but the one that sticks out to me the most is when Em references "Guilty Conscience" and mocks the flak he got from it in "The Way I Am."

    "The Search" is an internal monologue from NF's mind about the toll that fame takes on one's own mental health. He starts off literally talking to himself and then talks about how he went through a mental breakdown while wrestling with the anxiety and self-loathing that weighs him down. The song doesn't have a chorus for you to latch onto. Instead, it relies on NF spitting through two cycles that take you through an indomitable beat that goes so hard it represents the mania and angst he's trying to control. That's sandwiched in between two lulling verses where the intensity gradually beats as he smoothly picks up the pace in his cadence.

    I remember when this song first came out last year, I always played it during my radio show on Wave 89.1 because it was such a banger that really ran you through a gamut of emotions. I also really loved how NF breaks the fourth wall and asks where the beat went, only for it to come down so hard that it builds him up to his crescendo, which is where he mixes and matches his internal and external rhymes, using multisyllabic words, all while keeping symmetry in mind. Holy shit, that was straight out of Slim's playbook right there.

    Even the lack of a chorus—while not a strict Eminem trademark—is something you see in his diss tracks for Mariah Carey/Nick Cannon and Machine Gun Kelly, "The Warning" and "Killshot" respectively. Logic himself, another MC to whom NF gets compared, also has a single without a chorus, "44 More." Yes, this song structure is also visible outside of hip-hop, with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" being a notable example. But for a rapper to just spit from start to finish without the reprieve of a hook, it takes a lot of skill and that's what makes songs like "The Search" brilliant in my book.

    Man, I haven't enjoyed a RAW theme song this much since Papa Roach's "To Be Loved" was the anthem of the Red Brand in the mid-2000s. 

    I loved that and The Union Underground's "Across the Nation" the most among all the RAW themes that I can't believe a RAW theme song from my years as an adult can actually hold a candle to those classics. (Yes, I'm old. We're getting old.) "The Search" is also the first hip-hop theme song in RAW's history, which makes you wonder why it took them this long to go hip-hop for WWE's flagship show when they already went in that direction with SmackDown in the early 2000s.

    Shit, I'll go on a limb and call "The Search" as the second-best RAW theme of all-time, right behind "Across the Nation" and just a hair ahead of "To Be Loved." There, I said it.

    All that said, I'm just glad I don't have to hear the previous theme song, "Legendary," anymore. It was not legendary at all. I hated it. Good riddance. And I'm ready to play "The Search" again and again. This is a big fight feel song. And that's some good shit.

    Header image from WWE 


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and the host of On Deck, as well as one of the hosts of The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match. 
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: The Search (For A New RAW Theme) Is Over Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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