In the blink of an eye, NLE Choppa went from a Memphis high school student to a viral sensation.
The rapper was born as Bryson Potts on November 1, 2002, in Memphis, Tennessee. As a teen at Cordova High School, he began freestyling and rapping with friends for fun when he was 14, and officially launched his rap career at the age of 15 in 2018.
Thanks to singles like “Camelot” and his first major hit, “Shotta Flow,” NLE Choppa has become one of the biggest breakout rappers of 2019. His music videos are racking up hundreds of millions of views on YouTube alone, and he’s just getting started. As he continues to rise, here are 12 fast facts you need to know about NLE Choppa.
He was previously known as YNR Choppa
When the Memphis artist first began rapping, he used the stage name YNR Choppa. He released his first single, “No Love Anthem,” and debut mixtape, No Love the Takeover, under this moniker before changing his name to NLE Choppa. It’s unclear what the “YNR” stands for, as Choppa has not spoken about his past stage name in interviews, but he has said that “Choppa” was a nickname he got as a kid.
He started taking a career in rap seriously in 2018
Choppa didn’t always have aspirations of becoming a rapper. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that he even began taking his craft seriously. For the most part, Choppa looked at rap as a fun hobby. After realizing he had talent and something to say, he finally decided to give the career a real shot. “A year ago, I wasn’t doing what I was doing now,” Choppa told XXL. “I was recording stuff, but I guess it wasn’t good music. Now, I guess I’m making stuff that people actually want to hear. I started taking it serious after I found out I could actually do good with it.”
His first Billboard Hot 100 hit was “Shotta Flow”
NLE Choppa released a series of singles in 2018, but it wasn’t until he dropped “Shotta Flow” in January 2019 that he had his first hit. After leaking a clip of the song, along with a 3-minute of him goofing around YouTube, Choppa officially dropped the single, which earned him his first Billboard Hot 100 entry, peaking at No. 36 on the chart. The track was also certified platinum by the RIAA in June 2019. Choppa later released a remix featuring Blueface, which has already racked up over 90 million views on YouTube.
NLE stands for No Love Entertainment
The “NLE” in Choppa’s stage name stands for No Love Entertainment. The name isn’t just a cool acronym though. It refers to a movement Choppa launched with some of his friends and local artists in Memphis. “It’s pretty much a brand, all that,” he explained during a June 2019 interview with XXL. “With No Love Entertainment, I want to pretty much make it into a label. Just make it big, make it a household name.”
He reportedly turned down $3 million offers from major labels to work with UnitedMasters
As a result of the massive successes of Choppa’s single “Shotta Flow” and its sequel “Shotta Flow 2,” he attracted national attention and sparked a bidding war between major labels, including Republic, Interscope and Caroline Records. The labels reportedly offered Choppa multimillion-dollar recording contracts, but after reviewing each one, Choppa decided to turned them down. Instead, he chose to sign a distribution deal with UnitedMasters.
“[UnitedMasters founder Steve Stoute] told me everything they could do—they trusted me, and I trusted them,” Choppa told Billboard. “I get to own all my music, so it’s just a better deal [than a label]. I want to be able to have my own label, so I can build something from the ground up. In 10 years, I want to look back and think, ‘I created something big.’”
Although $3 million is a lot of money to turn down, Choppa says he doesn’t regret the decision.
The best advice he's received came from Stevie Wonder
It’s not every day that a legend gifts a new artist with words of wisdom, but it happened to NLE Choppa. Stevie Wonder reportedly ran into a Choppa at an event and bestowed some advice that has stuck with him to this day. “He told me keep working,” the rapper recalled of his brief conversation with Wonder. It might seem like a simple token, but Choppa cites Wonder’s words as the best advice he’s ever received.
He loves reggae
Choppa doesn’t just listen to rap; he also enjoys reggae music. In a February 2019 interview with HipHopDX, Choppa confirmed that he loves reggae legend Bob Marley. “[He’s] the only person I really listen to,” he explained. “A little bit of Shabba Ranks sometimes, but I mostly listen to Bob Marley.”
He is interested in charity work
NLE says he is passionate about philanthropic work and explains that giving back to his community in Memphis (and other parts of the world) is part of why he got into the music industry. “I really just like to see people being the best they can be,” he told HipHopDX. “I feel like if I got a blessing, then it’s up to me to share that blessing with the world any way I can with other people less fortunate with me.”
Choppa doesn’t help people for the recognition, though. He claims he receives the most satisfaction from knowing he did the right thing. “It’s just something I do from the heart,” he says. “There ain’t really no reason. I just know that after I help somebody and I see it made a difference, I feel good. I understand that a lot of people aren’t as fortunate as others. It’s just instinctual for me. I don’t know who I picked it up from, but I love to do it a lot.”
He would like to study business at a Florida college
NLE Choppa has admitted that he wasn’t the most obedient student in the classroom growing up, but he understands the importance of higher education. Although he has a packed schedule while he juggles touring, recording new music, and publicity obligations, he has expressed interest in attending college in Florida, where he hopes to major in business. “I wanna have the right skill and information to be able to take care of what I built,” he told HipHopDX. “I’d like to be in Florida or something. It’s nice down there.”
His mother has been a big supporter from the beginning
Choppa is lucky to have a supportive family. Leading his fan club is his mother, Angela Potts, who has been behind her son since he first expressed interest in becoming a rapper. She became Choppa’s manager, and when he started to get looks from record companies, she helped him review each contract. She also helps out with video shoots and other music events.
Speaking about her role in Choppa’s career during the first episode of The Rise of NLE Choppa, Potts explained, “I just want to be apart of whatever makes him happy because this is his dream. This is his goal, and whatever his aspirations are, I just want to be able to make sure that those get fulfilled. It’s about him. It’s about what he wants to do because this is his life, his career.”
A short stint in juvenile detention helped him turn his life around
Choppa has been very candid about his troubled past in interviews. He’s admitted that his choices got him into a lot of trouble as a kid. But a pivotal moment came when he served time at a juvenile detention center. It’s unclear what he went in for, but Choppa says his time at the detention center motivated him to turn his life around. “When I went to juvenile that time, that really helped me a lot,” he explained in the second episode of The Rise of NLE Choppa. “I wasn’t realizing all the shit I was giving up if I was to fuck around, get a life sentence.”
Once he thought about the consequences that come with going to jail, he realized that’s not the path he wanted to go down. “You on the stage, you rockin’ shows, you gettin’ with females every night, and then the next day you arrested,” he noted. “You in the cell, you got to eat when they tell you eat. Jail ain’t for nobody. It was an eye-opener.”
He wants to open his own sneaker shop
In addition to music and philanthropy, NLE has aspirations of opening his own sneaker shop called NLE Kicks. On an episode of Complex’s Sneaker Shopping, he spoke about his hopes of opening a franchise in Memphis, New York, and California. “I feel like everybody need shoes,” he pointed out. “Everybody need clothes. So I feel like that’s a smart investment because I look at what people need.”