This young trap artist has already gone platinum, been featured in XXL, Complex and Pitchfork, hit the Billboard 100 and turned down a $3 million record deal to release his music independently – and he hasn’t yet reached his 19th birthday. Following the release of his latest project, From Dark to Light, we take a look back at Choppa’s climb to the top.
In the space of a few years, this Memphis-born rap prodigy has risen from relative obscurity to become one of US hip-hop’s most talked-about talents. Early 2018 saw Choppa release his first song, ‘No Love Anthem’, before appearing on ‘No Chorus Pt. 3’ a collective with a circle of friends and collaborators known as Shotta Fam. After the track generated significant buzz online, receiving support from Cash Money label head Birdman and hometown legend Blac Youngsta, Choppa dropped what would become one of the year’s biggest breakout hits: “Shotta Flow”.
“Shotta Flow” is a raucous trap banger that profits from Choppa’s boundless energy – the video sees him surrounded by his crew, jumping around holding a semi-automatic while he boldly delivers verses that warn against crossing him and his allies. The use of firearms in the video caused something of a stir online, but Choppa has commented that he wasn’t trying to make a statement of aggression, instead aiming to depict the everyday reality of his life in Tennessee. Picking up over a million views within a month of release, the track has since reached 84 million and counting, leading to viral dance challenges on Dubsmash, countless YouTube reaction videos, and remix featuring Blueface and two sequels, the latest released only days ago. In the four days since it dropped, ‘Shotta Flow 3’ has racked up almost seven million views – Choppa’s immensely viral popularity seems to know no bounds.
After the meteoric success of “Shotta Flow”, it wasn’t long until the record labels came knocking. Choppa was reportedly the subject of a bidding war between record companies like Interscope, Republic and Caroline, with offers reaching in excess of $3 million. Such numbers didn’t tempt the rapper, though, who chose to sign a deal with distribution company UnitedMasters, dividing his royalties but crucially retaining control and ownership of his master recordings. The freedom this deal offered appealed to Choppa, who plans to eventually build his own label and brand from the ground up.
“In 10 years, I want to look back and think, ‘I created something big.'”NLE Choppa speaking with Billboard
Masterfully capitalising on the limitless hype surrounding his initial release, NLE Shotta has continued to rework the viral track into newer versions while releasing standalone originals such as ‘Birdboy’, ‘Capo’ and ‘FREEDDAWG’ to similar acclaim, proving that he’s far more than just a one-hit wonder with a single trick up his sleeve. Despite his initial reservations, Shotta announced a partnership with Warner Records, who are working with the rapper to assist him in building his own label imprint and brand. He’s followed this up with a massive year in 2020, releasing not one but two major projects: in August, Choppa released Top Shotta, which featured collaborations with Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch. His most recent release is the November mixtape From Dark To Light, which was released on the rapper’s birthday through NLE Choppa Entertainment. With lyrical content focused on meditation, spirituality and positivity, the project clears a new path for Choppa and points to a bold new direction for his music.