Lil Flip Talks "Respect Me," Rap-A-Lot Records
Beef aside, five years ago was undoubtedly the most celebratory time in Lil Flip’s 28 years, following the platinum certifications received for both of his first two major-label-backed solo albums, 2002’s Undaground Legend and 2004’s U Gotta Feel Me. The Screwed Up Click alum was riding high at the time on the success of his back-to-back hit singles, the platinum-certified, Pac-Man sampling “Game Over (Flip)” and the gold-certified summertime smoothie “Sunshine.” But with fallout from the aforementioned beef, subsequent label drama (due in part to the suspicious leaking by his then label home, Columbia/Sony Music, of what would have been his third album for the label), and the soon-to-follow popularity decline of H-Town artists on the national stage, Flip’s once bright shine has drastically dimmed over the last few years.
And so as the ‘00s near a close, the first of the millennial Rap stars from Houston to breakthrough nationally is attempting a career comeback. First on Flip’s itinerary to reestablish his brand of fly-boy rap to the national audience is the September 29th release of his Hi Power/E1 Entertainment distributed, album-before-the-album, Respect Me.
“When certain [media outlets] mention Texas they leave my name out,” observed the undaground legend of his newfound undadog status. “My whole thing is, I been around music since I was a kid, ‘cause my grandmother plays the piano. I play the drums – play the piano too. But I been [around] music my whole life. So it’s like, I care about the art of music more so than the fame. The reason you don’t see me at every event, or at every award show, is because at the end of the day I’m more about creating the art of music. I’m more about being [able] to express myself. And I know it’s a lot of…excuse my French, but you gotta kiss a lot of ass in this [business]… I’m not gonna kiss ass to get respect, I’m gonna take respect. I’m gonna stand for what I believe in, and either you ridin’ wit’ me or you ain’t ridin’ wit’ me. Either way it goes, I feel like I’m the best.”
Known for his simple but satisfying style of delivering braggadocio one-liners atop a variety of trunk rattling sounds, Flip assuredly added, “When a person put me on the spot…I’m not pulling out no BlackBerry or no type of device when they tell me to rap. I’m a true emcee. I can write or I can freestyle, it doesn’t matter.”
Following the lukewarm reception to his last solo studio album (and first and last for Asylum/Warner Brothers Records following his exodus from Sony), 2007’s I Need Mine [click to read], Flip has been hard at work over the past couple of years doing what he’s always done between formal full-length releases, and that’s serve the streets. Utilizing both mixtapes and retail-available underground albums, the self-proclaimed “Flip Gates” has unleashed several sonic platters to keep his faithful fed, including notable collaborative projects with Hi Power Entertainment owner/artist Mr. Capone-E (Still Connected, the follow-up to the twosome’s 2006 effort Connected), Young Noble of Tha Outlawz (All Eyez On Us), and Gudda Gudda of Lil Wayne’s Young Money camp (Certified).
And Flip has even more music outside of his album releases to come. Hot on the heels of his most recent all-original material mixtape, the strikingly polished Return Of Da #1 Fly Boy, an onslaught of new mixtape projects are planned, this time sans original production and sporting the sounds of classic records from three legendary artists. Ready To Fly will feature Flip rhyming over all Notorious B.I.G. beats. Reasonable Clout will showcase Fliperaci’s skills atop Hov instrumentals. And finally, All Eyez On Him will move the H-Town spitter’s mixtape tributes from the east to the west, with verses laid over the sonics of timeless Tupac selections.
Before those street releases make it to the masses, Flip’s new all-original material mixtape Respect Me is set to set-up his long-awaited fifth formal album, Ahead Of My Time (tentatively due this December). While given the current state of the music business Flip is unsure if his new LP will be another double-disc offering (as has been the case with each of his four former full-lengths), he is however sure that the first single and video from Ahead will be for the bad chick ode “Kim Kardashian.”
And as Flip revealed to DX, he plans to have not one, but two visuals on television video outlets in the coming weeks, as in addition to “Kim Kardashian” he is also planning to shoot a clip for “Da #1 Fly Boy” from Respect Me. Flip further revealed to DX that he is aiming to go to even greater lengths with his video grind online by shooting vids for every song from his Return Of Da #1 Fly Boy mixtape.
Flip’s most current clip in cyberspace is the Jay-Z vocal-sampling buzz-clip for Ahead, “Deep In The South,” which Flip revealed was recorded roughly two years ago, and jokingly admitted that given the song’s exposure he “might have to go on ahead and pay for that sample.”
As he lays down the promotional foundation for the release of Ahead Of My Time in a few months, Flip informed DX that he currently has 32 songs recorded for the project but does not know yet where the album will find a home, as he explained, “I don’t know what label I’m gon’ drop my album on. As of now I’m just sitting [on] the platform with all these mixtapes and these tools, and getting on different people’s remixes and things like that. But, as of now I got a few different options [label-wise]. I’m just gonna make myself hot – ‘cause I really don’t wanna deal with a major, but who knows.”
With that comment Flip may be intentionally throwing the label hounds off his scent, since rumor is circulating that he has already found a home for Ahead. Flip himself inadvertently initiated speculation of his joining the roster of H-Town’s seminal Hip Hop label, Rap-A-Lot, when he seemed to be subliminally confirming the move on the title-track from Return Of Da #1 Fly Boy when he noted, “I’m in the streets with J. Prince, Jr. making moves.”
“If it wasn’t for his dad, wouldn’t really nobody from Houston be where they at,” said Flip. “So, we developed a relationship. I been knowing him for years. He got his own record label, [Southern Empire]. We just trying to make our daddies proud. We got a couple of business things we doing – music, shows. Basically, we just trying to make sure the legacy is fulfilled, and we really on top of our business. So we making a lot of moves that people’ll hear about in a few months.”
When asked if he could break any announcement to HipHopDX of his signing with either Southern Empire or Rap-A-Lot direct, Flip was slyly vague.
“Flip is always gonna be an honorary member of [Rap-A-Lot], ‘cause that’s my family,” he said. “I’m probably [on] like 15 Rap-A-Lot albums. And we did Kings Of The South, me and Z-Ro did that on Rap-A-Lot. We have some [news] that I’m gonna announce. And it’s gonna be pretty big.”
If Flip does indeed join the Rap-A-Lot mafia he would technically not be labelmates with Scarface, who has publicly retired from the Rap game. The man who Flip once declared the real King of the South surprisingly shunned Flip during the beef that erupted in 2004 between the Cloverland G and his southern Rap peer T.I., a strange and in retrospect somewhat sad saga documented on film in Beef III.
“Basically that shit gone,” said Flip of his past war of words with T.I., or any other artist for that matter. “I ain’t participating in no more of that dumb shit. I’m trying to get this real Oprah money. Anything else trying to stop my mission, I ain’t trippin’ on that shit no more.”
Flip’s road to Oprah-esque riches currently includes touring, plans to re-launch his Lucky Nites liquor brand (and plans to launch his own Fly Boys champagne), the release of the film (Ahead Of My Time: The Flip Gates Story) that will trail his next album release, two reality shows (School Of Beats and American Rapper), and a UFC-style show for street fighters (Them Hands). And driving all of his other business endeavors, the Houston hustler is grinding non-stop on his music. Now free from major-label interference, Flip can now put his career destiny completely in his own hands.
“I’m just in a position right now bro’ [that] I was able to get out of my contract [with Warner Brothers] and I’m back independent,” Flip explained. “I have control [over my music]. I’m basically in the same position Jay-Z is in on just a smaller level. He bought his album back from his label. I didn’t have to buy my album back ‘cause I never turned it in. [Laughs] So, basically I can do what the hell I wanna do, man.”
Respect Me is due in stores September 29th from Hi Power/E1 Entertainment.