NLE Choppa’s New Album, Cottonwood 2, is Filled With Elevating Anthems
Bryson Lashun Potts, aka NLE Choppa (18M combined followers), is an American rapper from Memphis, Tennessee. Despite being just 20 years old, NLE Choppa, is one of the most electric rappers of his generation. He synthesizes multiple genres such as Trap music, Drill music, Hip-Hop and Rap. Raised on the city’s East side, Choppa broke through in 2019 with the Platinum-certified “Shotta Flow,” a muscular blend of menace and sheer personality that became his trademark. Since then, he’s garnered acclaim from the New York Times, Forbes, GQ, and Billboard, among other outlets, including XXL, which put him on its 2020 Freshman list. There are plenty of numbers that could quantify his success—his 13 RIAA-certified plaques and more than 5 billion global streams. Choppa’s is a unique cocktail of cutting-edge street rap with a pop sensibility, and he drops music at a breakneck pace.
What sets him apart from his contemporaries is his ability to give back to the community. NLE Choppa created the NLE Reading Challenge for elementary kids at Cornerstone Prep Denver in Memphis. They read 26 million words in one year! He inspired the elementary youth and promises to keep going back to the school. He also led a peaceful protest honoring Tyre Nichols, as covered by Billboard Magazine.
Most recently NLE Choppa has released “AIN’T GONNA ANSWER”, a song he co wrote with Lil Wayne. He also put out the track “MO UP FRONT”, both instant bangers. While the artist has only put out a few singles, that’s because he has been cooking up something even better. His forthcoming album Cottonwood 2 arrived April 14 and he announced a national headline tour for this summer and an appearance in the upcoming season of Grown-ish (ABC Family/Freeform).
With the release of Cottonwood 2 Choppa proves he’s even better than before! Cottonwood 2 is based on the celebration of growth. The songs are anthems that motivates and elevates all who listens. The album boasts production from Memphis’ Tay Keith, and guest features from Lil Wayne, 2 Rare, Rick Ross, and more! Cottonwood 2 delivers a youthful and high energy vibe that stands out from any music in its space.
How does being from Memphis Tennessee influence your artistry?
It creates a type of gritty type of flow to my music and also is just a representation of where I’m from and the struggle.
You recently released “AIN’T GONNA ANSWER”. The production is fire and you don’t miss a beat. What was the creative process like? What are some of your favorite effects to add to your voice (i.e. reverb, distortion, delay)?
My thoughts on attacking the beat was just make something that will keep the women moving and the guys’ heads bobbing. And my favorite effect on my voice is how much compression is on it.
Additionally, you wrote this song with Lil Wayne. Tell us about this collaboration. What were some of the most memorable parts in collaborating with Lil Wayne? Did he push you to create differently? How did you work together to honor each other’s creative process?
We were in two different studios, but just being able to hear his verse or get the news that I had the verse sent to me. I went crazy in the middle of Whole Foods after getting the news I got the verse. And my creative process for sure changed after hearing his verse… I said I gotta go harder on everything I touch, so it was for sure motivational.
“MO UP FRONT,” has a dope baseline. In one of the lyrics you say you were making dope money, now you’re making show money. What’s one city you can’t wait to perform in?
Man, Dubai. I can’t wait to perform there.
You synthesize multiple genres such as Trap music, Drill music, Hip-Hop and Rap. Apart from synthesizing these different genres, how do you feel you set yourself apart from other artists?
Just always been true to myself. Y’know I was doing things that intuition told me to do instead of following trends. I feel like it’s always worked out for my best interest. So just being very in tune with my intuition and in tune with my feelings of what I wanna do and what I wanna accomplish, and what kind of versatile route I wanna take.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Tupac, Wayne, and Bob Marley.
Name your top 3 favorite songs you’ve created?
I gotta go with “Ain’t Gonna Answer,” “Walk Em Down,” and “Do It Again.”
You are only 20 years old but hit after hit you got the party jumping. You are signed to Warner Records. Additionally, in 2020 you were nominated for the BET Hip Hop Award for Best New Hip Hop Artist. To what do you owe your success?
God. That’s who I owe it all to. Every time I wake up, every time I make a song, every time I make a hit. Y’know anything I do in the greater good – it’s not me, it’s all praise.
Earlier this year you cut off your dreads. What led you to make this change? Do you think you will ever grow them back?
What made me make the change was pretty much telling God I was ready for the new, I was ready to surrender to the new levels, the new beginnings, everything new He had for me. When I cut ‘em I said I was gonna grow them out again, but I actually kinda like it. But I may in the future grow it back out.
What’s next for NLE Choppa?
Movies, TV shows, philanthropy, more music of course, and everything under the sun.
Photographer: JD Barnes @jdthecombo
Stylist: Miquelle West
Galore Art Direction: Perrin Johnson @editsbyperry
Editor in Chief: Prince Chenoa @princechenoastudio