By Rob Markman
There was a time when Young Chopper City was on our television sets every week. As a part of Diddy’s MTV show “Making the Band 2,” we saw the 25-year old New Orleans representative go from rap hopeful, during the reality show’s tryouts to a full-fledged recording artist signed to Bad Boy Records. As part of Da Band, Chopper released Too Hot For TV in 2003, but after the show went off air in 2004, the hip-hop community as a whole hasn’t seen much of him. On January 6, Chopper says he was shot at a Michigan gas station while sitting in his Lamborghini.
The rapper was on his way to perform at a Chicago show—he says he has steadily been booked for shows in the Midwest, and believes that the shooting was part of a botched robbery. The MC was released from the hospital and is currently recovering in a Chicago hotel. We at RapFix have to admit that we haven’t been keeping strict tabs on Chopper since Diddy disbanded the Band, so we spoke to him to find out what he's been up to for the past eight years.
After Da Band broke up and the show was over, Chopper says he signed as a soloist to Bad Boy South. There he released his single “Lil Daddy,” which appeared on the “Hustle & Flow” soundtrack. He even got a chance to tour with a young Chris Brown and Trey Songz. “I was on the road promoting [‘Lil Daddy’], this was when Chris Brown was just little Chris to me, he was just a young guy,” Chopper said. “Trey Songz and everybody, they weren’t as big as they are now. Actually, I was probably like the biggest thing right there.”
After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Chopper returned home to help his family. Feeling disenfranchised with his Diddy at Bad Boy, he requested that Diddy release him so he can go and do his own thing. “I’m on tour doing my thing and when that hit, it started getting real,” he said. “It was f—kin’ my head up. I was tellin’ Puff—even though he was sending his condolences, ‘I need some money bruh.’ It wasn’t enough money for me to be sane, promoting this, as well as my family goin’ through this in New Orleans. So I had a choice to make.”
After leaving Bad Boy, Chopper linked up with Birdman. According to Young City, the Cash Money label CEO flirted with the idea of signing him, but a minor falling out with Wayne put a kibosh on the deal. Chopper then headed to Oakland and established his independent M.O.E. (Money Over Everything) record company after taking business pointers from Mistah F.A.B. “Baby ain’t gonna put Chopper before Wayne, of course,” he said. “He made a decision that he ain’t gonna be able to do it because me and Wayne ain’t cool.
After releasing the first seven volumes of his M.O.E. mixtape series in 2006, Chooper says that he headed to Georgia to continue his indie grind. He was arrested however due to a warrant from a robbery charge that he caught when he was just 16. The rapper was sent to Baltimore, where the crime was committed and was locked up for two months before he went before a judge.
In 2008 Chopper says that he caught another charge in Atlanta after he threatened to pull a gun out on another man after an altercation. Through all of his legal drama, the rapper kept putting out mixtapes and performing shows he maintains. “2008 got real, it got really real,” chopper said.
In 2009 Chopper’s younger brother was shot in New Orleans (he saw his older brother get fatally shot when he was just 14). Continuing his rap grind, Chopper City got hit with two years probation stemming from the Baltimore robbery charge. “2009 hit, I lost my little brother and mind you, I’m still doin’ tapes, I’m still doin’ shows,” he said.
Chopper says that he bought a tour bus in 2010 and continued to shoot videos like “Married to the Money” with director Mr. Boomtown. “I’m a smart guy, I was a naïve at first, but I learned how to hustle right,” he said. “Chopper City deserves to be amongst the big names. My grind deserves to be out there.”
In August of last year Chopper City dropped his biggest mixtape yet Zoovie with DJ Gunplay. Tracks like “Chu Chu,” “Sosa” and “LeBron James” kept Young City on the road making show money. “People want to know how I got a Lamborghini, how I got a Maserati and I’m not in the public eye,” he said. “That’s because I don’t give up.”