Talks becoming vegan, mental health, Cottonwood 2, and working alongside family.
“Every time I look in the mirror, I see something new.”
The introspective road of self-discovery is one that few are committed to embark on yet has the power to unveil one’s true purpose and open the doors to greater self-knowledge, self-control, empathy, creativity, and self-esteem. NLE Choppa – his name being derived from the acronym of No Love Entertainment and his nickname from young – has been on an awakened journey of his own after his rapid rise to fame contradictorily left him at his lowest, despite racking up more than 3 billion streams and an array of accolades since he ‘blew up’ in 2018.
A shining star thrust into the spotlight from the moment he dropped his first ever track ‘No Love Anthem’, Choppa found himself with “all the wants” but was left without “any needs.” After taking a moment away to reconnect with his inner self, the ‘Shotta Flow’ hitmaker returned from his brief hiatus early last year to mark the dawn of his new-found soul-searching era with his most personal record to date, Me vs. Me (2022).
Speaking to Choppa ahead of the release of the second instalment in his ‘Cottonwood’ series and his self-confessed “best body of work yet”, it is clear to see that the artist in front of us is so much more than the tattoo-drenched cheeky chap that meets the eye. In fact, NLE Choppa is an inspirational, hyper-aware 20-year-old that has grown to understand his true purpose and one who’s “so grateful” for all that he has accomplished.
There’s an infectious aura of positivity in the room, regardless of his depleting energy tank, when we talk to Choppa at the climax of his brief-but-hectic stint in the English capital. We sit down and delve into everything from veganism, Cottonwood 2, and lifestyle changes, to haircuts, London fashion, and dream collaborations as we unearth the secrets behind achieving his current mindset and learn more about what’s next for the Memphis icon.
Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day again to speak to us. I can imagine your schedule is pretty mad right now leading up to the album release!
So, tell me, at the very beginning you were into sports; when did the passion for music emerge?
I always had a passion for music, I always listened to music, I’ve always been a fan of the art of it. I got into it at around the age of 14/15 though. I started to use it as a therapy because I never really knew how to communicate my problems or communicate what I felt on the inside, so I started to bring it out. It was like a detox for me.
Were you doing that whilst you were doing sports or was that something that merged after?
I was kind of at the point of transitioning from sports to just wanting to do music.
When did you know this was the direction you wanted to go and take your career?
It was the first time I ever dropped. It was my very first song and it did like 100,000 views in a month, so I knew right then and there. I was 15 and I was like ‘okay I can do something with it, I know I’ve got it’. I blew up a year later at 16.
Wow! So, blowing up at 16, going viral, gaining the traction, how did you cope with that?
I just tried to stay disciplined through the process, but you know, you’re young and you’ve got everything coming at you, you kind of lose focus of going straight, which is life. It teaches you about being disciplined and staying on course so that nowadays when I’ve found the focus back, I know where not to go, I know where I won’t go back to. But yeah, there was a lot of stuff coming to me at one time, it’s hard to handle it at first but now I’m 4 years in I’m pretty expert at it.
Jacket – Dior x ERL (First Boutique), Shorts – Dior x ERL (First Boutique), Trainers – Christian Dior (First Boutique)
You’ve gone for a double denim look on the cover, was this outfit a conscious choice when shooting it or was it more just what you were vibing at the time?
It was pretty much just creating a matching outfit with me and my daughter.
Why did you decide to work with Russ Millions on this album?
That’s who was messing with me. I’ve got a habit of messing with who’s messing with me. I saw my big cousin and I met up with him through him.
Who else would you like to collaborate with in the UK?
I got a few people. I love Central Cee’s music of course. I like Dave’s music. I think there’s one more person, oh yeah it was Russ, we’ve already got him!
I watched your episode on Kick Game before I even knew I was doing this interview and you mentioned your love for London and in particular the fashion over here. What is it about the London style that you vibe with so much and how would you say it differs to over in the states?
It’s just so chill you know. In Europe, y’all pick up on fashion a lot quicker than America does. Just the simplest things of wearing a bally and a big hoodie, things like that are cool. Even just the designer brands, how many different brands are coming from the European side of the world. That’s always something that I’ve been intrigued about.
So, just imagine all your clothes are falling into an incinerator and you can only save one piece from your wardrobe, what would be that holy grail item that you couldn’t live without?
Some white Air Force 1’s. I feel like Air Force 1’s are the go-to. I wear them over designer shoes, Jordans, whatever you know. Air Force 1’s are pretty much my thing.
Jacket – Christian Dior, Jeans – Celine (First Boutique), Hat – Christian Dior, Boots – Christian Dior
You can’t go wrong! They go with every item of clothing, even a suit.
Another quick one, best dressed rapper in the game?
I’m going to have to go with myself. I feel like nobody at the moment is seeing me currently. I’ve been stepping out, I’ve been giving a lot of looks lately, people are peeping!
Especially in your new video with Lil Wayne, both your outfits were giving! How many tattoos do you have?
I’ve lost count!
What do you think your next tattoo will be?
That’s a great question, I don’t know that either! Wherever life takes me.
You are a role model to the younger generation. What message would you give to those whether they’re trying to get into music, acting, or sports with the fame arriving very quickly these days?
Just keep God first, stay true to you and stay destined. Once you’ve got those three things, you’re destined for whatever.
And finally, what’s next for NLE Choppa as you continue on your journey of self-discovery? What can we see from you next?
Man, just keep dropping music this year, just keep going hard. Movies on the big screen. Things to do with herbal medicine and holistic healing. Vegan food trucks, restaurants, or whatever. I’m doing it all.
You’ve got it all planned out. You won’t have any time left in your day with all that going on!
Yeah, it’s kind of hard to have time throughout the day but it’s okay, it’s a blessing.