With just a glance at his accolades, activism, and lengthy list of collaborators, you’d probably think NLE Choppa is a veteran of the game. Surprisingly, the Memphis rapper is only 21-years-old. 

NLE Choppa quickly asserted himself as one of the youngest rap superstars with his viral ‘Shotta Flow’ debut in 2019. Joining the class of XXL Freshman the following year, he’s since collected multiple Platinum records and collaborated with Lil Wayne, Chief Keef, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, and a laundry list more. He’s accrued over 9 million subscribers on YouTube, not just for his music and visuals, but from further connecting with his fan base through his vlogs and the importance of health and wellbeing on his Awakened Choppa channel. 

The global rap phenomenon is scheduled Down Under later this week to tour the deluxe version of his second studio album, Cottonwood 2. Untitled Group and XIII Touring present NLE Choppa’s Australian debut with three shows: Fortitude Music Hall in Meanjin/Brisbane on Jan 7th, The Forum in Naarm/Melbourne on Jan 9th, and Eora/Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Jan 10th. 

“Ya’ll got big ass snakes…I might get a pet anaconda,” said a hesitant NLE. Despite it being his first time, Australian crowds are expected to react well with tickets moving fast. “Imma come back whenever ya’ll want me to man, cos imma rock it.”

The 40-track project Cottonwood 2 includes singles ‘SLUT ME OUT’ and ‘DO IT AGAIN’, adding to his arsenal of hits  like ‘Walk Em’ Down’ and ‘Camelot’ that have made him one of the hottest names in his age bracket. The Cottonwood sequel finds NLE Choppa enlisting Fivio Foreign, Rick Ross, Polo G, G Herbo, Kevin Gates, Duke Deuce, BigXthaPlug, Rob49, Carey Washington, 2Rare, Lola Brooks, Modesty, Queen Naiji, Gino2x, ArrDee, Fridayy, Sexyy Red, Russ Millions, and Lil Wayne. 

“Just always having his [Lil Wayne’s] blessings to be able to bless a project, it’s so dope and so beautiful, man. I grew up listening to Wayne. Wayne was my favourite rapper now I’m one of his favourite rappers. It’s a full circle moment, it’s a lot.” 

NLE Choppa (2023).

Yet, despite the success, attention, and everything else that comes with being NLE Choppa, he’s most grateful for his family life. “I added two kids to my family so it’s been a beautiful journey. I talk about it in a lot of upcoming unreleased music. They inspire me to keep going.” 

Outside of the music and at such a young age, he’s created an interesting lane for himself. He had the foresight to jump into other lanes, having already cementing his presence within the hip-hop world. Since, he’s become more and more recognized for his internet personality alongside the music—recently making an appearance in Kai Cenat’s highly documented 7-day prison stream, alongside other comedians and rappers such as Druski and Offset.

In today’s world, being an “artist” is so much more than recording and releasing music. The demand is huge: with touring, sales pressures, media, and publicity—most artists are now expected to be a brand, and act as one too. Having the ability to market yourself but also be interactive with your fans and try to engage them in creative ways is now, controversially, a big expectation. “They go hand in hand. Without marketing, you have nothing, man. You gotta be able to make sure things look as good as the music sounds.”

“I have 100% faith in myself and my creative control to have a vision for what I want things to be, and I’m just pursuing that vision. That’s all I’ve been doing, with my brand and with my label, and it’s been working out for me man, for real.”

NLE Choppa (2023).

And, according to him, NLE Choppa doesn’t feel the pressure one bit. “Hell naw, I’m gonna get everything I want out of this game, and I know I’m always on the right path. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”

The road to success is always expected to have its trials and tribulations, and that sentiment is not lost on NLE at all, though many fail to consider the new set of challenges when reaching the summit. “It’s hard for people to give you recognition, but I’m not a person who looks for it. Sometimes you reach success before other people, and some people don’t respect it so they try and hate on it.”

“It’s very understandable. I mean, I know some people feel like they deserve it more than you, but God always thinks otherwise. God just wanted me to get there quicker than a lot of people that’s from my city, my state, and my country, so some people can’t resonate with it. But, over time those wounds get healed, and people come to their senses and realize what it is—but that’s in due time.” 

NLE’s taken the wisdom that he’s soaked in from his peers. While his internet persona and on stage presence is typically energetic and at 100 miles per hour, NLE Choppa knows how to pull back and observe, making every move with intention. Not only does his success defy his age, but so does his understanding of people and the industry he’s in.

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