Memphis rapper NLE Choppa is wise beyond his years on "Exotic"!



Growing up in the limelight must be weird. On one hand, you've got every available tool and resource available at your disposal. That kind of money and fame is going to take the brakes off of any kind of adolescent urges someone might have. If you really think about it, the idea of a teenager or young adult with virtually unlimited resources is kind of terrifying.

While these young artists might have the world at their fingertips, they're probably still not equipped to make sense of the situations they might find themselves in.

Memphis rapper NLE Choppa was only 17 when he first came to widespread acclaim, with his breakout single "Shotta Flow." The young rapper immediately turned heads with his streetwise lyrics and stripped-down music. This was old school hip-hop delivered in high style, meant for high-end sneaker boutiques and art gallery b-boy exhibitions.

Where "Shotta Flow" might've played in high-end boutiques, it doesn't seem likely that you would've come across NLE Choppa there. In the wake of his well-received Cottonwood mixtape, named after the street where he grew up, Choppa's left the street corners behind for fancy hotels and jewelry stores.

NLE Choppa's flow sounds like he doesn't entirely know what to do once he's there, though. The lyrics for "Exotic" read like surrealist exquisite corpse poetry.

"Better watch your mouth when you talk, 'cause you know I get violent
Kill anybody (Brr), just caught a body, did it in silence, yeah"

The joys of NLE Choppa is more about how he says than what he's saying. Lyrically, he's still sticking close to the template of angry young male rappers, full of drugs and money and women. This ultraviolence is interspersed with nearly elegant pauses, meaningful and expressive. NLE Choppa's clearly got the instincts. It'll be amazing to see what he does with them, as he continues to grow and hone.

We Are: The Guard are here for it. In a world where it's hard to find real, true street rap, it's always striking and refreshing when you find it. ESPECIALLY when it's as stylish and slick as "Exotic."


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.