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NLE Choppa: Versatile and and Ferocious

The Memphis rapper talks us through his successful 2023, growing versatility, and how a tour down under is the perfect way to detonate an explosive New Year.

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“2023 was my best year yet,” NLE Choppa proclaims to me over a Zoom call, excitement oozing through his cadence. “It was like my breakout year, but on crack.” Before hopping on the call, the Memphis rapper had spent the day drinking Long Island Iced Teas, a worthy celebration elixir for the position he’s currently in. 

The question is, how do you get better amidst a slew of years that are already damn good? NLE Choppa has been steadily killing it for damn near half a decade now, capturing the attention of the masses back in 2019 with the first instalment of ‘Shotta Flow’, a single series that would go on to define his fiery, high-octane brand of trap. Amongst this, his 2020 debut album Top Shotta earned a platinum certification, and his 2022 mixtape Me Vs Me debuted in the top 20 of the Billboard charts. But NLE Choppa looks back on his initial rise to fame, he does so with a series of reflections. “I wish I told myself to stay sucker free and reminded myself that I don’t have to take care of everyone in my life,” he tells me. “Sometimes I wish I could go through those moments again, so I could ensure I enjoy them.”

On NLE Choppa’s 2023 album Cottonwood 2, his appreciation of the journey is centre stage. Serving as the sequel to his 2019 EP, the versatility of this album feels like his way of enjoying the moments his younger self missed. The title references the neighbourhood where he grew up in Memphis, but the music represents the person he is today. Tracks like ‘ALL I KNOW’ deliver the grittiness we’ve come to love him, while others like ‘DO IT AGAIN’ bring a smile-inducing Jersey club rhythm. This versatility is expanded on in the deluxe edition of the album, featuring ‘IT’S GETTING HOT’, a pop-rap earworm infused with a sample of Nelly’s classic ‘Hot In Here’. “My versatility comes from not wanting to be in a box because I’m not just one thing” he tells me. “I want to make music that can appeal to anyone and everyone.” 

Another cornerstone of NLE Choppa’s versatility comes from his world travels. 2023 saw him perform in places like Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and more. One of the highlights on Cottonwood 2 is ‘In The UK’, a track inspired by a trip to London, which saw him integrating into the culture, and using it as a nitro-boost in his raps. “I love travelling because I love seeing how different countries operate, and I love learning about their cultures,” he says. “It all feeds back into my music because I don’t just want to be a Memphis superstar, I want to be a global superstar.” 

NLE Choppa never misses a chance to represent Memphis however, even amidst his worldwide travels. He recently closed out 2023 with the 7th instalment of his ‘Shotta Flow’ series, bringing us right back to the style he captured our attention with. The flows are fierce, the beat is bass-heavy, and the bars come in barrages. Choppa returns to Shotta Flow throughout his career as a way of “getting back to his roots”, saying “When I record a ‘Shotta Flow’ song I feel like a gangster and a kid that is once again young, wild, and free. It’s a great place for me to showcase my ability, and continue paying homage to the series that changed my life.” 

Now, NLE Choppa is kicking off 2024 with a slew of shows down under in Melbourne and Sydney.  This tour is the perfect way for us as pundits to propel into the new year but is another example of the triumph of NLE Choppa. It’s another country he’s performing in, and another pillar as he continues to build towards global super status. As he aptly states: “In 2024, I want to continue becoming greater, and there’s no better way to kick it off than coming down to Australia, bringing all my energy, and having a room of fans sing along.” 

Catch NLE Choppa on his Australian tour kicking off this month!

NLE Choppa 2024 Australian tour
Sunday, 7th January – Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Tuesday, 9th January – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday, 10th January – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Head here for more information + tickets

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