Whether you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious movie franchise or not, you likely have at least one of the franchise’s hit songs from its over 20-year history on your playlists. From hip-hop and pop to reggaeton and rock, the Fast Saga’s music is at once eclectic and instantly iconic. Songs like Ludacris’s “Act a Fool” have been nominated for Grammys, while Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s emotional tribute to Paul Walker, “See You Again,” is the sixth most-viewed music video of all time on YouTube, with nearly 6 billion views.
The latest movie in the franchise, “Fast X,” hits theaters on May 19, and the powers that be behind the film enlisted some of music’s heavy-hitters for its main song, “Angel Pt. 1”: NLE Choppa, Jimin of BTS, Muni Long, JVKE, and Kodak Black. Choppa is the youngest artist on the track at only 20 years old (he wasn’t even born when the saga’s first movie, “The Fast and the Furious,” premiered in 2001), and yet the rising hip-hop star out of Memphis, TN, has already surpassed 5.5 billion global streams with his music just five years after he emerged on the scene.
Choppa uniquely understands what makes a Fast and Furious song a fast and furious hit. His track “Speed It Up” appeared on the “F9” soundtrack in 2021, and now “Angel Pt. 1” marks two significant milestones for the rapper: it’s the first time his song was chosen as a main single for a Fast and Furious movie, and it allowed him to work with K-pop royalty: Jimin of BTS. “I knew that what I was doing was gonna progress to something big, but sometimes God doesn’t really let you know how big it is going be,” Choppa told POPSUGAR about this pivotal moment in his career.
Ahead, read what NLE Choppa had to say about “Angel Pt. 1,” including the qualities he thinks make the song Fast and Furious and what it was like making a song with Jimin.
POPSUGAR: What did the Fast and Furious franchise mean to you growing up?
NLE Choppa: I was a huge fan, of course. “Fast and Furious” was one of those movies that I kind of grew up on, so just to be a part of this series — I was a part of it in the past . . . but a lead single this go around, and to be able to watch something since a child and see it just kind of come to your doorstep when you grow up — it’s kind of like God foreshadows your future for you.
PS: As someone with multiple songs contributed to the Fast Saga, what qualities make a Fast and Furious song a Fast and Furious song?
Choppa: I feel like every song that I’ve heard from the Fast and Furious — that they’ve really been behind, that they really stood on — is a song that represents triumph, the fight in the underdog. It represents something that’s motivational or something that’s overcoming. And those are the best songs. It gives you the opportunity to get motivated. It gives you the opportunity to go to the gym. It gives you opportunity if rent due. You feel it. And that’s what makes the best songs — when people can relate to it on every level.
To be able to work with just one of the guys from BTS — on the Fast and Furious soundtrack, something so big — I feel like it’s a beautiful thing and it’s one of those things I prayed for. So, every time you hear BTS in my mouth or Jimin in my mouth, there’s gonna be a thank you behind it.
PS: “Angel Pt. 1” sees you collaborating with Jimin from BTS, Muni Long, JVKE, and Kodak Black. While the response to the song has been overwhelmingly positive, what is your message to the people who see this lineup as “random”?
Choppa: To be honest, I feel like it is kind of a random pick of who’s on the song. But if you erase every name that’s on this song — like if you erase my name, if you erase Kodak, you erase Jimin, Muni Long — and you just release it as “Angel,” and just let this go out, people will listen to it and realize everyone played and contributed to a role on this song and made a great song. Sometimes you get a song with five strong artists, and it sounds like a mashup, but on this song, everyone had a role. It’s like a basketball team: everybody played it well and just made the most beautiful song we can make.
PS: You have 18 million followers across your social media accounts and billions of listeners, but “Angel Pt. 1” is introducing you to a whole new equally passionate fanbase in the BTS ARMY. How has the response from Jimin’s fans been to “Angel Pt. 1”?
Choppa: They have been loving it, and one of the things that I emphasize is how grateful I am to be a part of it. I feel a lot of hip-hop artists don’t realize how beautiful the K-pop scene is, but I’m one of the few that’s grateful for it. I’ve actually been for a while manifesting wanting to work with BTS, and to be able to work with just one of the guys from BTS — on the Fast and Furious soundtrack, something so big — I feel like it’s a beautiful thing and it’s one of those things I prayed for. So, every time you hear BTS in my mouth or Jimin in my mouth, there’s gonna be a thank you behind it, because I’m just grateful knowing how big that scene is and grateful to know how big the impact they have on K-pop in general.
PS: How does creating a song for a franchise as big as Fast and Furious differ from making your own music for your albums?
Choppa: Just knowing how conscious you have to be on the purity of the song — not only showcasing the type of artist you are as a person but also knowing that the whole world is about to hear it. So, [I asked myself,] “What about NLE Choppa do you want the whole world to take away from this song?” And that was simply [that] I could step up to the plate and do a song on the caliber it can hit with everyone and relate with the whole world. My verse was mainly speaking to people that are family-oriented, speaking to people that want to go through triumph, speaking to people that keep God first in their life, and just things of that nature. So, just knowing that the whole world is going to hear it, and I just wanted to speak to them.
PS: What is your favorite Fast and Furious song (other than your own)?
Choppa: “See You Again,” of course. You know, it’s one of the biggest hip-hop songs ever in the world . . . it says a lot. . . . At the end of the day, “See You Again” is always going to have its own weight to it. But I feel like that was the goal with Fast and Furious this year, to try to . . . make something that gives you that same feel of “See You Again,” and I feel like they accomplished that.
PS: What was it like shooting the music video for “Angel Pt. 1”?
Choppa: Honestly, it’s one of the dopest music videos I’ve been a part of. Everyone has their moment of stardom. Whoever’s part you’re watching, you see the star in them, you see the star in the person. And that’s what made this song collectively great, is like everyone could be a star on the song, and everyone was a star.
PS: Are you excited to hear “Angel Pt. 1” for the first time on the big screen when “Fast X” premieres?
Choppa: I’m actually trying to do something where I take a lot of kids to the movies, since I work with the schools and stuff in my city. Take these kids that deserve it to go watch a movie with me — that’d be dope.
“Angel Pt. 1” is streaming now on all major streamers, and you can hear it in theaters when “Fast X” premieres on May 19. NLE Choppa’s new album, “Cottonwood 2,” is also streaming now on all major streamers.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Image Source: YouTube user NLE Choppa