NLE Choppa has cracked the fame formula. The 16-year-old Memphis rapper broke in January with the release of his smash hit, “Shotta Flow,” currently creeping up on 84 million views on YouTube alone. As it stands, there are four versions of this scorching single, each one boasting a unique flavor of block-is-hot energy—we even have a Blueface remix on our hands.
Considering the success of the original “Shotta Flow,” and the quality of each subsequent version of the song, this release strategy is genius. Fans searching for the original “Shotta Flow” will undoubtedly stumble upon the auxiliary versions, making for an incredible content loop and SEO play. It also helps that each of these tracks is bursting with charisma and dark humor, boisterous bars, and the type of raucous spirit that screams quintessential Southern hip-hop.
With the release of “Shotta Flow 3” on July 19, it’s time for a “Shotta Flow” power ranking, and to give some flowers to the young man lighting up the rap game from Memphis to the universe.
4. “Shotta Flow 2”
From its blown-out bass to the gaps in production for NLE Choppa to shine with his energetic and lugubrious delivery, assigning “Shotta Flow 2” the lowest ranking feels like a bit of a crime. It’s not that the song is missing the searing and coring spirit of the original, but rather that the production struggles to cede the floor to NLE Choppa’s voice. The blare of the bass competes with Choppa’s register, making for a mildly subdued listen. The “No homo” quip also loses the young man a few points.
There is much to love about “Shotta Flow 2,” though. When the music breaks and Choppa is spitting with a head-spinning fervor, we realize that “Shotta Flow 2” is about creating negative space. NLE crushes the beat. Even the color palette of the accompanying music video is bleak—not missing something, but putting an emphasis on the void. Clocking in at two minutes, Choppa manages to pack in a syrupy flow change and a collection of gruesome bars; there’s no mistaking “Shotta Flow 2” for anything other than a trumpeting street anthem.
3. “Shotta Flow”
The magic of “Shotta Flow” starts with the smattering of skeleton keys. Produced by Midas800, the minimalism of the beat gives way to the boom and pulse of NLE Choppa’s crisp vocal. His shouting reminds the legendary Trina of Plies, and his braggadocio is imbued with the bounce and rhythm of the Memphis hip-hop scene. The way Choppa skates over the keys and lands in the craters of the bass gives the song a gummy and infectious quality. “Shotta Flow” lurches and thumps all at once, with Choppa's snarling delivery selling us on his hard image.
From the hilarious and stunting raps (“Your bitch suckin’ dick like a Kool-Aid pickle”) to the impressive candor and peek into street life (“Pull up with the gang, you know that we bangin’ / What is your set, n***a? What is you claimin’?”), “Shotta Flow” is the perfect single and the ideal debut solo record. In the vein of his marketing genius, too, “Shotta Flow” isn’t even the best of the “Shotta Flow” songs. How very exciting.
2. “Shotta Flow Remix” feat. Blueface
“Blueface, baby! Yeah, yeah, aight!” On the remix of “Shotta Flow,” we must admit the West Coast star ran away with it. From his unmistakable entrance to his switch-up in flows, to his delivering a fresh set of bars otherwise absent from his most recent string of singles, Blueface takes a Southern hit and brings it to the West. With his star high and his vocal tone as distinct as Choppa’s, Blueface seems like the perfect collaborator.
As for Choppa, the young man deserves credit for his video performance. Directed by Cole Bennett, the remix video takes all of the charisma of the original version and brings it on the mainstage. Guns are swapped for grills; long clips for hot dogs. It’s cheeky, with Choppa dancing up a storm. Not only does this give the remix a fun, song-of-the-summer air, but it also acts as a sneaky bait-and-switch. For all the humor of the video, Choppa does not dull his edge. People come for his accessible visuals, and they stay to hear his raw raps.
The success of the remix, which does not feature any fresh bars from Choppa, proves the incredible staying power of the original “Shotta Flow.” There’s something spectacular in the way “menace,” “tennis,” and “Dennis” all roll off Choppa’s tongue. With a fresh coat of Blueface-paint, “Shotta Flow Remix” is just proof that “Shotta Flow” is going the distance.
1. “Shotta Flow 3”
Lord is this song a riot. The literal embodiment of a riot. Fresh beat, fresh bars, and a combination of everything that made the earlier “Shotta Flow” installments fantastic, “Shotta Flow 3” earns the No. 1 spot because it showcases Choppa’s rapid growth. The breathy opening delivery works well with the blown-out bass line, as opposed to the shouting competing with the bass on “Shotta Flow 2.” The rhymes are getting crisper as well, with Choppa ironing out this breakneck flow to absolutely glide over the production. The rudimentary schemes that glued us to his earlier performances have evolved into railing multis.
On “Shotta Flow 3,” NLE Choppa unleashes some of his funniest lyrics to date: “This bitch suckin’ my dick, like a flavored cucumber (Ayy)” and “Big titties on a choppa like I’m working at Hooters.” Quick switches in flow have him enunciating every word of his punchlines, bringing us back to the days of Big L’s most valuable poet disses. “Shotta Flow 3” also features NLE Choppa leveling up from a bite and snarl to a gnashing howl.
“Shotta Flow 3” is knuckle-biting music. “Shotta Flow 3” is crack-your-teeth-on-the-cement music. If there is ever a “Shotta Flow 4,” it will have big shoes to fill.