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Amid the flourishing underground rap scene of Houston, Lil' Flip rose to quick and prosperous fame after his independently released Leprechaun album broke through to a national audience, prompting the young rapper's signing to Universal Records soon after. Nicknamed "the Freestyle King," Flip as a teen initially won the attention of the immortalized DJ Screw, who ushered the rapper into his loose-knit Screwed Up Click. The affiliation brought instant respect for Flip throughout Texas as well as the greater South, and his Leprechaun album capitalized on that, moving an impressive number of units for an independently released album. The album's slowly mounting yet ultimately broad reach and Flip's youthful appeal attracted Universal Records, who signed the barely-20 year old to a major-label contract in 2002 and released Undaground Legend later in the year. Driven by the lead single, "The Way We Ball," as well as a remix of "I Can Do Dat," a hit previously released on The Leprechaun, the album extended Flip's audience nationally and heralded him as one of the South's most promising young rappers of the early 2000s. In 2002, Lil Flip returned with Undaground Legend, a slick sophomore effort. It would go practically unnoticed. Two years later, Lil Flip returned to the scene with the more expansive double-disc set U Gotta Feel Me.
It's no wonder that Houston-based underground king Lil' Flip would change the game with his platinum-plated 2002 major label debut Undaground Legend. After honing his talents under the tutelage of late mix tape messiah DJ Screw, moving an impressive 100,000 units of his indie debut The Leprechaun and serving up 10 volumes of his own underground mixes, Lil' Flip has become the biggest rap name to break out of the Lone Star State since the legendary Scarface with his boastful, conversational flows, sing-a-long hooks and melodic, head-nodding grooves.
On his third installment, U Gotta Feel Me, the H-town veteran offers that same street smart savvy mixed with crossover appeal that took him from regional recognition to national stardom. "I took my time on the new album and really worked on it," he divulges. "I spent a lotta time in the studio to come up with different concepts. I wanted to give it mixed emotions. Every track makes you feel a different way."
Born Wesley Weston in south Houston's Cloverland community, Flip was the final MC to be enlisted into the late DJ Screw's elite rhyme outfit, the Screwed Up Click. Before the legendary turntablist succumbed to a heart attack in 2000, Flip won local praise flexing his freestyle muscle on two of Screw's most popular mix tapes. And because the up-and-coming rhyme animal could rap non-stop off the top of his dome, Screw honored Flip with the title of "freestyle king."
But it wasn't until Flip hooked up with local concert promoter Duane "Humpty Hump" Hobbs, however, that the young stalwart would taste his first morsel of success. With Hump serving as C.E.O. and Flip co-C.E.O., the dynamic duo formed indie label Sucka Free Records and released their self-titled group effort, Hustlaz Stackin' Endz, which also featured crew members A.P. and Redd, in 1998. The group effort moved an impressive 27,000 units by word-of-mouth alone.
On the heels of H.S.E.'s success, the label struck again with Lil' Flip's Southwest Wholesale-distributed regional favorite, The Leprechaun, two years later. On the strength of the runaway hit single, "I Can Do Dat," The Leprechaun SoundScanned more than 100,000 units within a year. Flip then came back with 10 consecutive volumes of his underground "chopped and screwed" mix tapes, boasting averages sales of 30,000 copies each.
Naturally, the bidding war between major labels began with Sucka Free eventually inking with Columbia Records in 2002.
"We had already covered some of the market," Flip recalls. "I wasn't just doing shows in Dallas and Houston. I was doing shows way in Cleveland and Detroit and places like that. So (the major deal) was just a bigger push, a load off. You working side by side. It's like two heads."
Unfortunately, tragedy struck just five months before the release of his major label debut, Undaground Legend. Flip was took shots in the side during a drive-by shooting as he was returning home from a Houston recording studio. Luckily, he survived the attack and was released from the hospital the following day.
As Flip recovered from the setback, Undaground Legend, preceded by playful, sing-songy single "The Way We Ball," shot past the million-sold mark. The double-disc set hit the Billboard 200 at #12 and #4 on the Hip-hop/ R&B chart. Within the first week, it moved almost 70,000 copies.
In an effort to keep his name ringing, Flip helped to propel David Banner's Mississippi The Album to gold heights on sizzling summer single "Like A Pimp," popped his collar with Three 6 Mafia on the flossy "Ridin Spinners" and added his unique Texas flavor to Neptunes protege Fam-Lay's old school-tinged "Rock and Roll (remix)."
Now, Flip aims to re-stake his hip-hop claim with U Gotta Feel Me. And he kicks off with braggadocios on the album's first single, "Game Over." Atop futuristic, mid-tempo production accented by elements of video game classic Pac Man, Flip sets himself aside from the average, run-of-the-mill rapper and spits: "I'm a Cristal n---a/ And you a red winer/ You just the opening act/ But I'm the headliner.../ I'm well connected like Dub and Mac 10/ With Ice Cubes on my watch/ And dubs on the black Benz."
Another of Flip's tracks, "What's My Name," is featured on the new EA Sports football game "NFL Street," along with other tracks from Three 6 Mafia, Lil' Jon and Nas. Lil Flip also has a track, "I'm The Greatest Player," on the PlayStation 2 game, "NBA Live 2004."
Other diamond-studded jewels are the rowdy, club-driven "Bring Da Pain" featuring Ludacris, the hometown reppin "Ain't No N---a" and "All I Know," where Flip trades verses with Cam'ron. As an added bonus , double-disc package is accompanied by a DVD featuring performances and backstage interviews.
"When I go in the studio, I always give the fans some extra sh--," he confesses. "Giving them extra sh-- makes them feel appreciated, like they didn't f--k their money off."
Delving into the business side of the game, Flip has recently started his own imprint, Clover G Records. And on the album's March 23 release date, Flip's his own fruit-flavored liquor, Lucky Nites, will hit the streets. The pineapple-flavored drink will be sold in green bottles.
"I was doing the rap part and making sure the music was tight," Flip explains, "but I wasn't really concerned with the business end of it. Now, I want in on (it) all." And he is sure to get all that he deserves. Through his grassroots foundation, tireless work ethic and limitless hustle, there is nothing that Lil' Flip cannot do.
The Pac-Mans Sue Lil' Flip
Makers of Pac-Man sue Lil' Flip for using game sounds. Pac-Man and the missus are taking Lil' Flip to court.
MTV reports that Namco America, the makers of the iconic video games "Pac-Man" and "Ms. Pac-Man," are suing rapper Lil' Flip for using sounds from the games without prior authorization. Seems Lil' Flip didn't obtain permission before he sued the Pac-Man sounds in his hit song, "Game Over."
Namco's lawsuit claims that because Lil' Flip's "Game Over" includes drug and gun references, the association is damaging to the Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man games.
Lil' Flip Plans LP, Clothing Line And Movie
Houston MC has plans to become hip-hop's next big mogul. In competition, timing is everything ... or so says Lil' Flip. The Houston MC says that's why he's waiting to drop his new album, I Gotta Get Mine.
"My position brings out the best in some people," said Flip. "So I let dude drop his album and play his hand, and now I see what I got to work with."
While Flip never named the "dude" he was referring to, it's a safe bet he was talking about Southern rival T.I., whose Urban Legend was released this month. The two began beefing back in June at a radio-sponsored concert in Atlanta (see "T.I. Starts 'Filet Mignon' Beef With Lil' Flip At Birthday Bash").
Flip said he does name names on I Gotta Get Mine, due in late February or early March. "It's a couple on there that's going to have that spark," he laughed. "You know how Jay-Z came out first [with 'Takeover'], and then Nas came out [with 'Ether'] and won because he let Jay play his hand first? There you go."
For his new set, Flip worked with beatmakers like Play-N-Skillz and Mario Winans. He also manned the boards himself.
"There's no need to spend all your money on beats [from top producers] when there are new cats who are hungry to get on," he explained. "So that's what I did. When you hear it, you won't know the difference."
Flip said the album will have a host of guest artists. He plans on kicking things off with two singles: "Real Hip-Hop," featuring Ghostface and LL Cool J, and "Stay Ballin," featuring Yukmouth. He said the album will also feature Nelly and Jadakiss.
" 'Real Hip-Hop' looks at hip-hop through three generations," he said. "I grew up listening to Ghostface and the Wu-Tang, so I rhyme about that, and so on and so forth."
According to Flip, "Stay Ballin" is a remake of Tupac's "Still Ballin."
In addition to I Gotta Get Mine, Flip is also working on a new album, Death Before Dishonor, from his group Clover G's.
"This is the group that put me on and the first screwed-up clique to put out an album, so I wanted to put them on," he said. "I will be rapping on every song, so I'm going to be supporting this project to the fullest."
Solo albums from Clover G's members Will Lean, C-Note, Black Al Capone and Big Sheisty are also on the way.
After he's done putting the finishing touches on those projects, Flip plans to get back to working on his comedic biopic, "Pimpin' Ain't Easy" (see "Lil' Flip Turning His Life Into A Comedy").
"I put that on hold," he said. "I wanted to finish my album and the group album first. I wanted to get three or four years of music [done] before I started shooting the movie, so I spoke to ['Boyz n the Hood' director] John Singleton recently and we're going to sit down now and start planning the film."
If that's not enough, Flip sees himself as an entrepreneur as well. He'll launch his own liquor brand, Lucky Nites, in January. He also plans to launch two clothing lines, 5 Star General for men and Clover Girls for the ladies, and a Lil' Flip watch line later in 2005.
With his various endeavors, Flip believes his time is now. "Hey, Jay has left," said Flip. "So someone has to do it."
Lil' Flip Turning His Life Into A Comedy
Titled 'Pimpin' Ain't Easy,' movie scheduled to shoot in the fall. Talk about flipping the script. Houston rapper Lil' Flip is turning his life story into a movie ... a comedy, to be exact.
"Everybody is dropping gangsta movies, [but] you can only kill so many people," Flip explained.
"So I'm going to tell them the truth about what I went through and I'm going to make it a comedy. And I'm gonna have a lot of stars in it, so you all look out for it."
Titled "Pimpin' Ain't Easy," the movie is scheduled to shoot in the fall with Flip playing the lead role.
Also on the horizon for Flip is a dis track aimed at T.I., who called Flip out in Atlanta recently after hearing the H-Town MC had come at him earlier (see "Lil' Flip To T.I.: 'If You Make A Leprechaun Mad, You Gonna Feel The Wrath' "). Flip still denies starting the beef.
"For one, why would I dis a gold artist?" he said. "And about the king of the South thing, Scarface is the king of the South. So it's really crazy, but he came at me and I got something for him, so it's all good."
Lil' Flip: 'If You Make A Leprechaun Mad, You Gonna Feel The Wrath'
Flip denies he ever dissed T.I. in the first place. In Hollywood, Warwick Davis dressed up in all green and showed us in his cult-classic "Leprechaun" movies that the gold-chasing shorties had a lovable side as well as an ugly side. In hip-hop, it's no different.
"You know me, I'm the leprechaun,'' Lil Flip said responding to a hailstorm of disses T.I. spewed at him over the weekend in Atlanta (see "T.I. Starts 'Filet Mignon' Beef With Lil' Flip At Birthday Bash"). "If you cool with the leprechaun, you get good stuff. If you make a leprechaun mad, you gonna have to feel the wrath."
The usually mild-mannered Flip was gearing up to show fans another side of himself later on in the night at a show in his hometown of Houston. He was going to lyrically respond to what he says was unprovoked rhyming insults from the Rubber Band Man.
"That's how he came at me, onstage, so I'mma come at him the same way. It's really crazy, but if you come at me, I'mma finish it," Flip said. "I don't start beef, but I know how to end it. I don't play by the rules, but I know how to bend it."
At Saturday night's ATL concert Birthday Bash 9, T.I. dissed Flip onstage because he said he has a tape of Flip taking shots at him at another concert earlier in the year. Allegedly, Flip told the crowd to tell T.I. "game over" and Flip segued into his hit single by the same name. Flip categorically denies these charges and says that shortly before T.I. turned himself in to police in March, the two did a photo shoot together for a Source magazine cover (that cover was eventually scrapped).
"He was all at the photo shoot like, 'Flip, did you do the 'Game Over' remix? I wanna get on there," the Houston native recalled. "T.I. was at my trailer at the photo shoot. So if he had a problem with me, he should have said it then."
Flip said he had someone from his camp reach out to T.I. recently because he heard that a dis song might be on the horizon, but he was told nothing was going to happen. The H-Town MC was surprised when he arrived at Birthday Bash 9 and heard T.I. getting at him onstage.
"What happened was that I was trying to get to Atlanta," Flip recalled. "They delayed our plane, so we didn't get to the [venue] till like 11:20. Somebody came back like, 'Hey, man, he's talking bad about you.' Right after he did that, they stopped his music in the middle of the show. Right after that, the [radio station] people was like, 'Y'all gotta go.' I was gonna try to go out there on the stage. They told me I couldn't go out there. I had to go."
If it were up to Flip, he would just concentrate on making hit records. He has a new single and new album coming out with his group the Clover Gs. One of the members happens to be video vixen/ King magazine cover girl Gloria Velez.
"We got Gloria, she's doing some stuff out there too, man," Flip said. "I got this little group thing and we thought it would be best to put a girl in the group. You know we always talking about pimpin', but it ain't nothing like when you got a song with a point of view from a man and a woman. I just got her on some tracks to spice it up a little bit.
"She can rap," Flip continued. "She likes rapping fast. She can spit. She writes her own sh--. Like it takes me 15 minutes to write, it takes her 15 minutes to go write her sh-- and we out."
In his new video for "Sunshine," Flip has his mind on another woman, his baby boo.
"Basically the song is called 'Sunshine,' the video is showing a day in the life of Flip," he said. "Girls are throwing theirselves at me, but if you got a good chick at home, all these obstacles in front of you, you can overcome them. All the girls that give their number, instead of calling them, I throw them away."
Lil' Flip Plans To Flip The Script and Do Series Of Joint LPs
Prolific rapper wants to team with David Banner, Luda, E-40. Lil' Flip has shown that all by himself he's capable of pumping out more music than most rap cliques. Houston's freestyle king explained that most of his albums are doubles because he makes nearly two dozen songs during every studio session.
"Since my independent album, The Leprechaun, I've been dropping doubles," Flip said. "I go to the studio and drop 20 tracks a day. Half of the stuff I put on mixtapes, half of the stuff I put on the album. It's hard [to decide which songs to put where]. One time I went in the studio to record a mixtape and I recorded songs [for my album]. 'Bounce,' 'Rags 2 Riches.' ... I listened to them again like, 'You know what, I gotta put it on the album.' I'll listen to the track 100 times before I make my decisions."
You'd better soak up all the solo Lil' Flip records you can now. One of rap's most prolific hustlers, Flip said he only has three more solo projects that he'll put out, all within the next three years. After that, he's only doing the group thing.
"When I turn my last [solo] album in, instead of trying to come back, I'mma switch up the game and do albums with different people," Flip divulged. "That's gonna be history. I'm gonna be the first person to go do a album with E-40, do an album with Ludacris, do an album with Cam'ron. Just go around doing albums with people."
The first of Flip's tag-team albums will probably come this year in the form of a collaboration with David Banner. The two have recorded three keepers for the LP so far.
"We gonna be the down South version of Redman and Method Man," Flip said with a rare smile. "We're gonna make it big. Right now we're going with the [title of] Mr. Crunk and Mr. Laid Back. When we do tracks together, I bring the best out of him and he brings the best out of me."
Flip, who launched a line of liquor earlier this month called Lucky Nites — "It tastes like pineapples, it's 98 proof, it'll knock you out and you'll have a lucky night," he promised with a laugh — is figuring his summer tour schedule.
Flip said he wants to go back to his schedule of just a few years ago, when he would perform three shows a day (one for the little kids, a skating rink for the teenagers and clubs for the adults) for up to $1,500 a pop. These days, he joked, he's been doing the Call Me And I'll Show Up Tour.
The next single from Flip's U Gotta Feel Me is "Sunshine." He'll shoot a video for the clip in about two weeks.