NLE Choppa – 23

Memphis hip-hop sensation NLE Choppa kicks off the new year with his celebratory-yet-menacing new single “23.” True to form, the 20-year-old makes no bones about his undeniable stature in the rap world, calling out detractors and listing goals throughout the no-holds-barred track.

Boasting an elegant string arrangement punctuated by a bombastic beat, NLE lets everyone know exactly where he stands. “New year, new me, it’s 2023,” he proclaims over the booming production. “Old shit ain’t going for it — this newer me probably knew me last year, but you don’t know me.” It’s clear the breakout artist has points to make and fires off lyrical barbs at will, often with highly quotable results.

“23” is the latest in a cavalcade of introspective music from the rapper. Recently, the hitmaker linked with 2Rare for the lighthearted dance hit “Do It Again,” where he proclaims, “Victim of love, won’t get me again.” The single is steadily climbing the charts, approaching Top 10 at radio with 6.9 billion global streams and over 17 million YouTube views for the video.

The new single is a taste of what’s to come from Choppa’s sophomore album, slated for release this spring. Leading up to it, he’ll be promoting the NLE Reading challenge across the country to empower youth in low-income and at-risk environments. Self proclaimed “Awakened Choppa” will be making pop-up appearances on his vegan food truck, This Can’t Be Vegan Food to encourage healthy eating habits in the hood and sharing his travel adventures on his highly popular YouTube channel.

Since topping Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart for a record-breaking 24 weeks in 2019, cracking the Billboard 200 albums chart with 2020’s Top Shotta, and earning a spot on Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list, NLE has established his superstar credentials. Now with “23,” he’s leveling up yet again.

Despite being just 20 years old, NLE Choppa, one of the most electric rappers of his generation, has worked hard to become a pillar of his community. So while there are plenty of numbers that could quantify his success—his 13 RIAA-certified plaques and more than 5 billion global streams—it’s possible he prefers another one: 26 million. That’s how many words the kids at one Memphis elementary school read this year as part of his Needs Learning Everyday challenge. 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. Choppa’s is a unique cocktail of cutting-edge street rap with a pop sensibility, and he drops music at a breakneck pace. But this hardly means he’s stuck on the same ideas. As he’s continued to serve Memphis (see his This Can’t Be Vegan food company), his music dives into his past and psyche, growing more poised and thoughtful seemingly by the month. His latest project, Me Vs. Me, is his most richly detailed yet, tracing the tragic and triumphant arcs he’s seen around him from 21st-century Memphis back to Biblical times. While his serrated style might seem at odds with his open-heartedness off the mic, they are simply different embodiments of the same drive and lust for life.

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