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NLE Choppa Chat: New Music, New Mentality

The Youth have spoken; NLE Choppa is Memphis' next up and coming star.

A man holding a microphone in front of a crowd at an NLE Choppa concert.
NLE Choppa singing into a microphone.

Photos by Brandon James

If you haven’t heard, NLE Choppa— aka Bryson Potts—has already grabbed the hearts of millions of fans through his music, style, social media presence, and captivating personality. Nevertheless, the story of the 20-year-old’s rise fame starts with humble beginnings. 

In Memphis, TN, the former hooper turned rapper started freestyling at the early age of 14 with his friends. He leaned into his talents, and two years later, released the most notable song of his early career, “Shootah Flow” which landed a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and— within the first five months—received 9.7 million US streams and 200 million Youtube views.

What sets NLE Choppa from the rest is his ability to combine animated lyrics with uniquely Memphis-style dancing and high energy performances.

I saw this first hand at the  Red Bull “Dance Your Style” Competition at Crosstown Concourse where he completely took over the show.

He performed three tracks—Shotta Flow, of course, and two rollout features for his upcoming album dropping April 14th: “DO IT AGAIN” which samples “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a 70s track by Rose Royce, and “CHAMPIONS.”

I got the chance to sit down with NLE and talked about all things music, Memphis, mental health, spirituality, and more. 

Two men standing next to each other, NLE Choppa.

CHOOSE901: YOU JUST KILLED IT ON STAGE. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO PERFORM IN YOUR CITY?

NLE CHOPPA: It feels good. I don’t really get an opportunity to perform like that often. To come out and see all the kids, and everyone unified is beautiful to me. In Memphis, it’s not too unified, so events like this are perfect. 

CHOOSE901: IT’S BEEN A GREAT YEAR FOR YOU TOO; WALKING OUT THE GRIZZLIES AT THE HOME OPENER AND CREATING COTTONWOOD 2.

NLE CHOPPA: Around October 2022, God hit a reset button and allowed me to have another breakout year. Feels like the first year I dropped Shotta Flow in 2016. God was letting me know that this is going to be way bigger than last time; that I just have to stay focused and disciplined. To see it all happen is beautiful— rolling out a project this year and trying to get into acting. I just feel grateful and I’m taking it all in.

CHOOSE901: ON YOUR UPCOMING ALBUM, ONE OF YOUR FIRST TRACKS IS “AIN’T GONNA ANSWER” FT. LIL WAYNE. HOW’D THAT COLLAB COME ABOUT?

NLE CHOPPA: Simply off of faith and prayer. To have Wayne, someone that I grew up watching and was so mesmerized by—someone so musically inclined who stays true to his authenticity—it means a lot. It’s really a childhood dream to be able to meet someone you grew up looking to for inspiration. 

CHOOSE901: I GOTTA ASK MAN. HAIR IS SOMETHING WE TAKE SERIOUSLY IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY—AND EVEN AS A RAPPER, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO FIT A CERTAIN IMAGE. WHAT MADE YOU CUT OFF YOUE LOCS? WHAT DID THAT MOMENT SYMBOLIZE?

NLE CHOPPA: I feel like I went through a lot of traumatic and mental things from 2019-2021 that I had to overcome. Me cutting my hair was me winning this battle on the inside. I wanted to show God that I was ready for the new on the outside. It represents growth.

CHOOSE901: WHAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY LIKE? WHERE  HAS IT LANDED YOU?

NLE CHOPPA: I didn’t grow up in a church household. It’s something that my ancestors, those who are guiding me, instilled in me. It’s something that I embarked on and found. Being able to surrender and let God lead is a beautiful thing. 

CHOOSE901: THE WORK WE DO HERE AT CITY LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT THE GOOD ANS POSITIVE THINGS HAPPENING IN MEMPHIS. FOR YOU, SOMEONE THAT DOES THE SAME, WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU’D SAY TO A MEMPHIAN TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO FOLLOW YOUR LEAD?

NLE CHOPPA: Just always be grateful for what you have. Stay the course and align with your goals. If it doesn’t serve your greater good then you can’t entertain it. Stay on faith street.

STORY WRITTEN BY WILLIAM SMITH, CITY LEADERSHIP 2023 RESIDENT

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