Words Sally Salinas / Photo Julia Beverly
Greatest Southern Artists of all Time
5 ESSENTIAL LIL FLIP TRACKS Lil Flip “Soufside Still Holdin’” The Leprechaun 2000 This was the classic anthem in Cloverland back before anyone outside his hood knew of Flip’s now-infamous Lucky Charms CD cover. Lil Flip f/ David Banner, C-Note “What Y’all Wanna Do” Undaground Legend 2002 Over a crunk uptempo beat, Flip and co. taunt the East Coast and let ‘em know how we do it down South. “We bump that Screw down here, okay?” Lil Flip “Way We Ball” Undaground Legend 2002 This tale of how players do it in H-Town pushed Flip into the national spotlight. Lil Flip f/ Lea “Sunshine” U Gotta Feel Me 2004 This mellow laid-back summer jam for the ladies took Flip’s career to all-new heights. Lil Flip “Game Over” U Gotta Feel Me 2004 Utilizing a catchy Pac-Man video game sample and crazy hook, Flip declared “Game Over” and pissed off a certain “skinny rapper” along the way.
here’s no question that Lil Flip has made an impact on the rap game over the past few years. Although he may not be the most lyrical MC, rumor has it that the late DJ Screw once branded him with the impressive title “The Freestyle King.” He possesses a certain signature trait that can’t be denied. That trait is simplicity, and as we all know, simplicity is the essence of good design. His unique flow remains unmatched. Down South, success isn’t measured by who can write the illest line or who has the hardest poetry. It’s about money. Long considered the redhead stepchild of hip-hop, the South has contributed more to the musical lexicon than any other region. Just like Houston’s Lightenin’ Hopkins revolutionized the blues back in the days of the previous generation, artists like Lil’ Flip and his contemporaries in the Screwed Up Click have revolutionized the way people look at rap. And they did it organically. Flip’s career was built from the ground up by the legendary DJ Screw. Sold hand-to-hand, Screw’s cassette tapes full of rap jams slowed down to a syrupy pace took the region by storm and became an underground sensation. Screw music may be new to those who came up outside of the Texas borders, but for folks in the bowels of the dirty South, those slowed-down beats have been a dominating force for years. If you were featured rapping on a Screw tape, you were guaranteed ghetto gold before even releasing a CD. Enter Lil Flip, a teenage prodigy with a penchant for freestyling and an A-1 business partner. Under the direction of Houston legend Hump, Flip first entered the scene in 1999 with his group, H$E, but it was his solo debut, The Leprechaun, that pushed him over the top. His single “I Can Do It” was a smash in Texas and pushed the record sales to over 180,000 (technically, it was a double CD, so 90,000 copies counts as 180,000). Regardless, the sales numbers were impressive for an independent artist. With his Lucky Charms cereal box styled cover, complete with Lil Flip actually dressed as a Lep12
OZONE APR 2005
rechaun (a tribute to his neighborhood, Cloverland), outsiders would have never guessed that this man was about to become one of the biggest sellers in Southern rap history. However, his fans and friends from the massive metropolis of H-Town knew that Flip was something special. In the time between the independent release of The Leprechaun and his major label debut Undaground Legend, Flip and co. dropped over twenty mix CDs jampacked with flows and freestyles from the man himself over other people’s beats. Some of these discs sold over 20,000 copies, and as the majors began to take notice, Lil Flip became a household name in the South. Eventually Flip signed with Loud Records, then transferred directly to the parent company Sony when Loud folded. With the help of the mega-hit “Way We Ball,” Undaground Legend went platinum. Flip was also featured on David Banner’s breakthrough single, “Like a Pimp,” helping to turn all industry eyes on Houston for the first time since the Geto Boys’ early days. 2004 saw the release of Flip’s third double disc, U Gotta Feel Me, produced mostly by Dallas legends Play-N-Skillz. The hit single, “Game Over,” produced by Nick Fury, almost never happened because Flip originally objected to the use of the classic Pac Man video game sounds in the track. Mr. Mixx of 2 Live Crew had used the same sample less than a year earlier for the Houston hit “This is For My...” which also featured Slim Thug, T2, and Flip’s arch nemesis, ESG. Fortunately, Flip decided to use the beat for “Game Over,” and the song took him platinum once again. After “Game Over,” Flip released the radiofriendly “Sunshine,” featuring Lea. Despite the inclusion of questionable lines like “I’ll treat you like milk, I’ll do nothing but spoil you,” the song was a massive success and helped Flip’s career crossover into a whole new audience. Soon, he was appearing on remixes with commercially successful artists like Beyonce. With the success of U Gotta Feel Me, he was able to tour the world to promote the record,
setting Lil Flip apart from his Houston contemporaries. He’s one of the only rap artists from his city who’s ever had the opportunity to perform outside the United States. While other Houston artists like K-Rino, 5th Ward Boyz and Slim Thug have performed spot dates outside the U.S., Flip entertained crowds in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Toronto on his own. Even with his career thriving commercially, Lil Flip’s beef with T.I. in late 2004 threatened his street credibility. An incarcerated T.I. heard that Flip had been performing at shows in Atlanta and challenging T.I.’s claim to the Southern throne. Whether the allegations were true or not, immediately upon his release, T.I. made it his mission to destroy Flip’s career with a highly publicized diss at Hot 107.9’s annual Birthday Bash and a scathing mix CD. Although rumors are flying about a recent altercation that reportedly occurred between T.I. and Lil Flip in Cloverland, Flip seems to have weathered the storm successfully. And, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. Flip has also ventured into other industries, releasing his own liquor (Lucky Nites) and signing a shoe deal with Diadora. Bringing the style and sound of Houston to a mainstream audience, it could be argued that Flip is partially responsible for the current wave of Texas artists on their way to national success (Slim Thug, Mike Jones, PaulWall). As one of the first in his region to put up impressive sales numbers without the boost of a major label, artists like Flip opened the floodgates for Houston’s thriving underground market to expand into the mainstream. Having broken off from the label that took him to Sony and helped mold him as an artist, in the past year Flip has truly stepped out on his own. His new label, Clover G’s, features the Botany Boys and other friends from his Cloverland neighborhood. The group is poised for success, and while this Undaground Legend has already accomplished some big things, he’s still on his way up.
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005