At the beginning of every new year, the prospect of the first new artists of the year that will emerge in a major way is always exciting to watch. 2019 saw a quality crop of emcees find stardom, but none came blazing on the scene quite like NLE Choppa with his breakout hit “Shotta Flow”. The song was undoubtedly Memphis in every way, a city that has been known for putting out some of the hottest artists of this decade. Choppa follows a strong lineage of artists from the south that have carved their own lane, but Choppa’s star might be shining brighter than all those before him.
Even at a young age, NLE Choppa has been able to channel his crazy life experiences and focus them all on his debut project Cottonwood. The release of this is an important step for Choppa as he has been building up to this point the entire year dropping hit after hit and focusing on a single model that other artists should be paying attention to. Choppa has faced his fair share of difficulties this year, culminating in his Instagram account being deleted mere days before the release of his debut EP. Even though the trials, its things such as this that add another level to Choppa’s story and his resiliency to triumph no matter what is trying to stop him.
This project feels like a fully realized collection of Choppa’s talents. Each track brings the energy of a Nuclear Reactor and truly shows how versatile his talents are from track to track. There was no doubt that Choppa would be able to output a quality project as his first, but this has all aspects that make people gravitate to the Memphis Superstar. Tracks like “Clicc Clacc” and “Step” are prime examples of NLE Choppa’s aggressive wordplay using every inch of the beat to get people’s hearts thumping. Songs like “Matrix” feature Choppa switching up his delivery in a more relaxed fashion with the same levels of intensity. Overall, this project is a perfect catalog of the talent Choppa has ready to completely takeover the planet in 2020.
We recently sat down with NLE Choppa while he was in Vancouver performing at Breakout Festival. The Canadian city is entirely different than where he grew up but his words still resonate deeply with a soldout crowd moshing. Choppa is a wildly introspective artist, understanding that success at his age gives him a rare opportunity to leapfrog those before him. Read the interview below and be sure to put Cottonwood on repeat!
Stream Cottonwood on all platforms here and watch the documentary on the release below!
Phototography by Cole Slater
You’ve had a huge year, how does it feel to be releasing your debut EP?
It feel like a scary type of relief. I know everybody been waiting on the project but at the same time I’m just hoping everybody fucks with it. I know I put my all into my music so I know they’re gonna fuck with it. There’s always just a little tingle in your body when you think “what if they don’t?” but you know I put my all into it.
What are some of the biggest reflections as your breakout year comes to a close?
All of this stuff just shows the hard work. All my packed shows have crazy energy or the plaques I receive. All of this just shows the hard work just paying off. The outcomes of my hard work is what I be looking forward to.
How has success felt at a young age?
It feel good cause it kinda gives me an edge I believe because I think I’m starting way younger than other people that been working way longer than me. I got a blessing to get this opportunity early, in the most humblest way I can say it.
Where did you get your sense of loyalty from?
That shit is just in me, ya know? I’ve always been the type that if I fuck with you, I fuck with you. If I don’t, I don’t. That’s always been my mentality.
Does touring with your family help relieve the stresses that come with traveling so much?
Yeah cause I know that they care about stuff more, it means a lot to them. It makes me more considerate.
Where’d you get the inspiration to get the NLE in the back of the head?
Just being different. I just wanted to start something and always show off my brand at the same time.
You have been one of the biggest artists to remain independent, how important do you think it is for artists to go that route?
I recently signed to Warner but it’s all about playing your cards right. You gotta know what you want, you gotta know what you capable of, you gotta know what you can do. You gotta plan it, it’s a strategic game. You gotta strategize it until you get what you want, that’s what it’s all about.
We’re here in Vancouver right now, do you have a favorite Canadian artist?
Nah I ain’t really heard any.
You notice any difference in Canada compared to the States?
It look exactly the same. Vancouver looks exactly like California but just without palm trees. It’s like San Francisco or some shit.
What city has the worst food that you’ve been too?
I ain’t never really find no good ass food. I hate they pizzas, they be too big and shit.
What’s your favorite type of ice cream?
I don’t really eat ice cream but if I did it would be Vanilla.
I know you played sports a ton, you have any achievement you’re most proud of from that time?
MVP in the Basketball Championship.
You mess with pineapples on pizza?
Hell nah, I don’t really eat fruit like that.
What were your biggest inspirations in Memphis for your music?
Blocboy JB fasho.
Memphis has been produced some of the best rap music throughout its history, any artists on the rise we should be looking for?
Pooh Shiesty he’s outta Memphis y’all gotta look him up on YouTube. Dreekdadon he’s one of my artists at No Love Dreek da Don, that boy hard he gifted. No Love he’s one of my artists you gotta look him up too.
It’s been a huge year for you, you have any major goals for 2020 after Cottonwood drops?
Release my debut album bruh. When I release my debut album I just want it to be like the biggest shit ever. I swear to god every song on that bitch is platinum bruh no cap. It’s just gonna be a classic, will go down in history as one of those albums.
You have been doing a lot for your community with your success, do you have anything else planned for the holidays?
Before I blew up every other Christmas, about 4 or 5 times, instead of receiving we’d go out to give. One time we gave to St. Jude, one time we gave to a school, but I don’t know if we’re doing it this year cause we haven’t had time to plan nothing. I’ve always been the type of person to want to give.
Thanks for coming out man.