This month, 17-year-old platinum rap star NLE Choppa released his official debut project, Cottonwood along with a trippy, nearly 11-minute docufilm. The short-film visual delivers the story of a less-fortunate teen who gets everything he could want faster than he ever imagined. The catch is the pressure that comes with the fast life.
In the video, NLE Choppa takes fans into his world with a dramatic listening experience that lets the audience eavesdrop on everyday conversation. The straight-talk doesn’t compete with the thematic messages–it’s delicately placed for the sole purpose of situational context.
Cottonwood Road, the street that Choppa grew up on, sets the stage for his progression in the artsy visual. He includes every track from the project and transitions between them with interludes. The first single from the project, “Side,” is a triumphant track dedicated to his mother. Each scene cryptically mirrors real-life events and spins them into a dream-like, coming-of-age narrative. He somehow translates disconnected strings of thought into a kaleidoscopic experience. It’s an unflinching look at the raw reality behind viral videos and platinum plaques. This is what happens when the world knows you before you know yourself.
Back in October, Paul Thompson of XXL raved about the rapper who is a representative of the new wave and direction in hip hop. “[NLE] Choppa is like a perpetual motion machine, rattling off hard, percussive flows with enough personality that they never feel like technical exercises,” he said. With over a billion streams to his name, NLE Choppa quickly became one of the hottest new rappers of 2019. In January, his breakout single “Shotta Flow” made him an overnight star.
Despite confusing statements on his affiliation with NBA YoungBoy, you can’t unsee the comparison. They have a similar sound, a seemingly similar message for their listeners, and a lightning-fast rise. In only 10 months, NLE Choppa amassed an astonishing 475 million cumulative views on YouTube. This summer, he released the “Shotta Flow (Remix)” featuring Blueface. Later in September, he tapped Lyrical Lemonade for the energetic anthem, “Camelot.” The teenage force caught the attention of Birdman, Yo Gotti, Lil Durk, Pitchfork, The Fader, and XXL early on. Choppa spent this year steadily releasing hits. “Shotta Flow” is an RIAA platinum-certified single, so he has the hard numbers to support the uproar.
With Cottonwood, NLE Choppa rounds out 2019 with purpose and solidifies his place as the next global superstar.
NLE Choppa Presents, Cottonwood: The Movie
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