Review: NLE Choppa Releases His Highly Awaited Debut Album ‘Top Shotta’
7 Aug 2020
17-year-old NLE Choppa has proved himself as a force to be reckoned with over the last year. Climbing to the top of the game in no time at all, it all started when he released a string of hit singles in 2019 including “Shotta Flow”, “Camelot” and “Shotta Flow Remix” alongside Blueface, catching the eyes of many worldwide. Known for his charismatic energy, the young boss has accumulated a boast-worthy fan base, 13 million monthly Spotify listeners and over 13 billion streams across all streaming platforms – it does not stop there! Choppa and his family grew No Love Entertainment (NLE) from humble beginnings in Memphis to a burgeoning full-fledged imprint with Warner Records. NLE Choppa continues to take hip-hop by storm and solidify his place as the next global superstar. Today, the hit-maker has released his highly anticipated debut album titled, ‘Top Shotta’.
Consisting of 20 tracks, with features from Lil Baby, Chief Keef, Mulatto and Roddy Rich, this album gives us the long-awaited journey through NLE Choppa’s mind. Switching up his charismatic sound halfway through, he pushes aside the bold bravado and starts to un-peel a more vulnerable and honest side of himself; touching on delicate topics including anxiety, depression and fear, the young star bares all.
Introducing the album with “Daydream”, the track opens up with melodic keys as he raps, “Daydreamin’ about the money, then a n***a woke up / Plenty of losses in the game / Didn’t have too much luck with it” before a hard-hitting beat drops, in turn unleashing the fiery NLE Choppa we know best. Transitioning through to “Double Bacc”, we then stumble across the first feature on the project “Make Em Say” featuring Mulatto. Posing as one of the stand-out tracks from the album, this track has an over-riding sultry and seductive energy. Embellished with bouncing 808’s and claps that create an anthem-esc feeling, both Mulatto and NLE Choppa join forces for the infectious hook. The female force later joins in with an undeniable swagger; “He know what time it is, he better not try a bitch / I had the nigga sprawled ‘fore I even tried the dick / Who you know gon’ ride the dick? / Take it out and swallow it?” she raps assertively.
Gliding through two of NLE Choppa’s biggest hits, “Camelot” and “Walk Em Down” featuring hit-maker Roddy Ricch, we are submerged into the depths of hard-hitting backdrops, harnessed with heavy bass’ and melodic lines that make up NLE Choppa’s ever-growing catalogue. Sonically, we take a slightly different turn in “Murda Talk”, layered atop a minimal beat, this enable’s the young star’s punching flow and raw street poetics soak in the spotlight at the forefront of the song; “Ayy, I think lil’ homie scared, fool, he say, “I’m ready, fool” / So I gave him that lil’ dirty tool, he say he finish dude / Say he caught him slippin’, got the clip and knocked him out his shoes / Mommas cryin’, niggas dyin’, pussy, that’s what shottas do”. Swiftly transitioning into “Who TF Up In My Trap”, this head-bopping hit is harnessed with a ringing melodic line and distorted bass; “Who the fuck outside my trap? / Say you wanna cop a gram / Bitch, you better cop a pint, or an ounce, or a hail / He said he ain’t tryna cop, rob his ass, trip him down” – perfect for mosh pits! Journeying through the 20-track project, we dive headfirst into a number of sporadic energy-driven and rowdy tracks, including “Shotta Flow 3”, “Top Shotta Flow”, “Shotta Flow 4” alongside Chief Keef and “Shotta Flow 5”.
It’s not until we reach track 13, “Can’t Take It” that we start to see a different side to NLE Choppa. Entering a new soundscape, from here on, NLE Choppa let’s us in on a more vulnerable and honest side of himself. A stand-out single for me was “Gamble With My Heart”, blurring the lines between being lost and facing himself head-on; “Sometimes I gamble with my heart, I’m takin’ chances, where my love at? / Don’t know where to start, it got me askin’, “Where the drugs at?” / Suburban who? ‘Cause I be posted with the Rugrats / Came up off of robbin’, but my OG really sold crack / Billion views up, but I’ll still go and kill somethin’ / Take one of my dawgs and I’ma make sure all y’all feel one / Unexpected shootout, you ain’t knowin’ when that drill come / Come and shoot up who house? We gon’ post up ’til you niggas come” he raps.
There has always been a known misconception surrounding fame, money and love being able to solve all your problems. Exploring this theory further, NLE Choppa unleashes his deepest thoughts in “Paranoid”. Posing as one of the biggest artists world-wide, that doesn’t stop him from feeling every emotion, just as anyone else would; “My biggest fear is being left all alone / I’m sincere when I admit my wrongs / I hope my do’s outweigh all my don’ts / I tell you to leave, that’s not what I want / I’m prayin’ every day, life’s hard / I’m really flawed, yeah, you know that I’m scarred / It hurt me deep ’cause you aimed at my heart / Up this Glock on anybody, paranoid”. Picking out his imperfections and unarming the ‘perfect’ lifestyle as a global star, NLE Choppa raps with a deep and broken vocal tone as details his fears, using weed as an emotional escape to numb the pain, to living with anxiety and frustration.
As the album closes out, we walk our way through pre-released single “Narrow Road” featuring Lil Baby. The pair talk about their respective situations and in particular Choppa, with his mis-use of drugs from a young age; “They tell me think smart, I know right from wrong / They say I’m going to get life with this dirty chrome / Well, you would rather take a life before they take your own”. Touching on being a better person, pushing his habits and pride aside, as he reaches fatherhood in “Made It Happen”, NLE Choppa shows a glimmering light of progression from here on out. Finishing the album with “Depression”, the young boss intertwines singing in with his heart-felt and passionate bars, opening the track with a vulnerable hook; “My eyes closed, I don’t wanna see / My mind gone, I can’t sleep / I ain’t got no appetite, I can’t even eat / It’s kinda hard being me / My eyes closed, I can’t see / My mind gone, I can’t sleep / I ain’t got no appetite, I can’t even eat / It’s kinda hard being me”, he show’s a sense of bravery as he opens up about mental health issues and the problems he’s faced.
Filled from start to finish with an array of different sounds, NLE Choppa has created the perfect balance of hits and acknowledging his demons face on with a variety of heart-felt tracks. Delivering a high-quality body of work, NLE Choppa is showing no signs of slowing down in what’s looking like a prosperous career ahead!
Listen to ‘Top Shotta’ below and on Apple Music here.