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.
--- from the official Lil' Flip website