On November 1, NLE Choppa will turn 17-years-old and he wants a Hellcat. It’s fitting for someone his age with a lot of money and a lot of pent up angst. When I met Choppa, or Bryson as everyone around him plainly calls him, he had just got off a flight from his hometown of Memphis without a moment to slow down, straight to a music video shoot for Skyxxx’s “Hot Boy” remix. His mother, Angie Potts, who also happens to be his manager, and father, Brandon Potts, were both there to make sure his obligations were met because a night at the studio was next.
Last year, Choppa exploded into popularity with an energetic and warlike track titled “Shotta Flow.” The nearly three-minute certified Platinum anthem was practically inescapable upon its release and its raw gun-toting and smokey visual gave Choppa an edge in today’s current hip-hop climate where auto-tune and tripped-out music videos reign supreme.
So far, he’s dropped a total of three “Shotta Flow” tracks with tentative plans for a mixtape release ahead of his debut album in 2020. He sat down with Uproxx to discuss his aggressive “Shotta Flow” raps, and how he’s ready to deliver something more reflective and true to his soul.
What was it like for you growing up in Memphis?
It was pretty much hard. It was a lot of stuff going on in this little city because there’s nothing to do there. It was like, nothing to do without getting in trouble.
You just got off probation, right? So, what do you think you’re here to learn or teach because everybody is listening to your music and watching you right now.
Really in my music, you ain’t going to learn too much, but just how to do violence. But if you’re talking to me, you just learn from me that being yourself is the best way to be. Be you. You ain’t got to front for nobody, cap for nobody, none of that. Be yourself. It’ll take you far.
Do you feel like you have that responsibility?
Whatever is out of my element that I don’t do is a no for me. I’m not going to let nobody force me to do anything, I ain’t going to look at no money to do it. That ain’t me. I don’t care how much you paying me, or what you say. None of that.
You got popping while in high school. How did that transition go for you? You handling that okay?
I’m handling it well. I already had a lot of maturity, because I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through a lot more than what an average 16-year-old go through. I already just had maturity. It wasn’t no more playing, for real now. This business is serious. I had to cut it all the way up, tight.
What would say to the kids that look up to you right now? Like, the younger ones?
I love saying, just keep God first and just keep working. If you got a dream, pursue that dream. Whatever’s in your head, it don’t matter how impossible it seem, chase that shit because that’s what I did. It’s just doing numbers for me right now.
Everything that you have going on right now, did you envision that in the beginning?
Yeah, I envisioned it before. It’s a video of me, it was a whole dorm, sold out. Everybody had their lights on flashing while I was performing. I pictured it in my mind.
Before it happened?
Before it happened. When I looked at the video that they recorded, I’m like, “man this is crazy. This is like the exact same vision I had, like in a dream I kept having, that I chase,” you know what I’m saying? I pretty much envisioned all this, for sure.
Was rapping what you wanted to do in the beginning?
I always wanted to be a rapper. I don’t know why. I just liked it. I wanted to be a basketball player, too, but rapping just like, it was independent. It was something of my own. If you mess up…
Yeah. It’s you. You can’t blame nobody but yourself for a mess up with music. But, sports or something, you can blame somebody else.
Your song “Camelot” hit the Billboard charts recently. Is Camelot where you used to hang out?
Yeah, that was the block, but I’m from Cottonwood. It’s around the corner. It’s all in East Memphis though. It’s two minutes away from Camelot. Camelot is where I shot “Shotta Flow” at.
Tell me about “Shotta Flow.” Are you going to keep that going with more “Shotta Flows”?
I think I’m going to stop “Shotta Flow” at five. I got two more I want to put out. It’s just about how I pace them. Like at what time I put them out. The timing of it.
What makes you decide to call it “Shotta Flow”?
It’s like a different bag I hop in. Like, the beat.
So basically you’re just like, “This is ‘Shotta Flow?'” This is the one?
Yeah, like the beat, it’s got to be a real, real hard beat. Most of the “Shotta Flow” beats are the same. It’s like real hard. That’s how I try to keep it.
I noticed that you use Triller a lot. How has that been instrumental to you blowing up?
Triller is a big part of how I tease my music. I never used to like Triller and I never did them until I did it later, one time and I actually liked how it came out. We started doing them more. Triller is a platform I like to use, for sure.
You ever use TikTok?
I used TikTok once. I was doing something and they banned my video. They’re like…
They banned it?
No, they didn’t ban it. They deleted it because they say I did something inappropriate on it.
Do you remember what you did?
[Motions hand up-and-down] I was just doing something and they say it was inappropriate, so, I guess.
Wow. How long did it take for them to delete it? Was it quick?
Quick. I don’t know why.
That’s crazy. And then the last name you had was YNR Choppa. What did that stand for?
It was Young N Ruthless. It was a rap group I was in but I wanted to do my own thing so I made NLE, No Love Entertainment.
What was it that made you start taking music seriously?
When I realized that the buzz I was getting was gaining so I had to take it seriously from there. Once the record labels started hitting me, I really took it seriously then. When my first song dropped it went viral. It was called “No Love Anthem.” So I started taking it real serious after that.
You’re also making a lot of moves, very early on, that a lot of established artists make later on in their career, like owning your masters and publishing. What do you think has been the greatest lesson that you’ve learned since you’ve entered into your partnership with Warner?
Just being patient and let God work out problems. Work out everything, slowly. Patience is key pretty much. I still rush a lot of stuff but I’m thankful for my team and everybody around me. They help me value patience so I value patience a lot. From me being patient, I got the deal I wanted instead of the deal that’s a slave contract or some sh*t.
You also have a song with Birdman and Juvenile. I see the Cash Money influence and hear it in your music a lot. What was it like working with them?
It was like, I wouldn’t say a dream come true, but it was something like, damn, I’m really working with two legends right now. I really looked up to [Lil] Wayne the most out of anybody, though. To have the chance to work with Birdman or Juve on a track…that was something to me.
Have you met Wayne yet?
No, he autographed something for me though. It meant a lot to me. He autographed a basketball and a picture of him but we haven’t worked yet. When we do it’s going to be crazy.
I know you and NBA Young Boy, at the time, had a weird little start in the beginning but it seems like you guys are ok now and you did the “Free YoungBoy” joint. Tell me about the dynamics between you and YoungBoy musically and personally, now at this point.
I just know people compare me to him and I don’t know why. I don’t know. It’s weird.
Probably because you guys both started out young.
Yeah, that was about the only comparison, like young. How we started out.
Who has been your greatest mentor in the entertainment industry?
Trae Tha Truth. Trae Tha Truth is a real down to earth. He a real n*gga. Trae Tha Truth, Gotti, and BlocBoy [JB]. BlocBoy is not a mentor to me, but he’s like a big bro. Yella Beezy, he helped me too. He make sure I’m straight. He always trying to see where my head at.
Can you recall a specific instance in your life where you were able to use music to get through a painful situation?
Oh, for sure. Music helped me get through a lot. I got a lot of hype songs out right now, but ain’t nobody really heard the sh*t that’s real, that’s true and real true to my soul. That’s why I’m fixin’ to get a mixtape here out. They’re going to hear the versatility of it. Music helped me cope with a lot of sh*t. That’s my therapy. In my mind, my therapy is talking into the mic.
Do you have a therapist?
The mic is your therapist, got it.
Is that mixtape going to come out before the album?
I’m trying to maybe do a mixtape before the album. I don’t want to do no mixtape though, but I don’t think it will hurt me. It’s just like, I just want to come out with a debut album, I’ve ripped. I’m thinking about dropping a five-song EP on my birthday, November 1.
NLE Choppa is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.