Lil' Flip: Shamrocks & Shenanigans
By Matt Caputo
With a new album just over the rainbow, Lil' Flip is at ease handling his hustle. His past platinum plaques have might have brought him shiny rings and things, but his hardworking background taught him to never forget where he was from - like in every hood. From Houston, to Harlem, to Honolulu, you learn to rep it hard and to take pride in your town. Being from a place called "Cloverland," it was a no brainer to talk on the luck of the Irish style, aside from what House of Pain was able to bring to the Irish Hip-Hop head. While Flip might not pass for a Dubliner, he manages to retain the Irish attitude and spirit. "Liquor make me want to fight dog, for real."
As Flip ponders his career over a purple grape soda, he rarely speaks of himself in the third person and makes sure to thank everyone for their coverage and the love as they walk out the door. While he may have his critics, Lil' Flip knows that a rapper's commercial success will never outlast the love of lyricism. So, on St. Patrick's Day, with his family secure and his liquor label, watch line and sneaker company coming, Lil' Flip talks Hip-Hop, high school hoops and Hustling his Houston swagger with a authentic permanent grill and a tremendous grip on the task at hand.
AllHipHop.com: How did you actually decide that you wanted to run with the leprechaun thing, the clover icon if you will? Tell us about Cloverland?
Lil' Flip: Well, my neighborhood I stay in is called Cloverland. Growin' up, we could just make up s**t like, "We're the leprechauns," and we always liked the Notre Dame logo - the little fighting Irish guy. It kind of just went together. The Clover G imprint came about when I broke off from the dude who I used to have a record label with, and I came out with that U Gotta Feel Me album. I've always done my own s**t. I write the treatments for my videos, I draw my album covers, so I've always been the type of person who was hands on. At that point in time I had someone who was taking credit for everything I did, so I already knew I had to step out and get more freedom.
AllHipHop.com: You took some criticism for the leprechaun concept, did you see it as reaching out and trying to appeal to new fans?
Lil' Flip: For one, I represent where I'm from. At the same time, if there was another artist stated a neighborhood or there was a box of cereal or anything that was a symbol of their neighborhood, I'm sure that artist would throw it up. At the end of the day you want people to look at your s**t on the shelf, and want to buy it. S**t, I was 17 or 18 when that album dropped, and I was in high school. I'm actually proud of it, because if you listen to the whole album, I talk about different subject matter, even at the young age that I was.
AllHipHop.com: Do the Clover G's like to drink as much as the Irish are portrayed to?
Lil' Flip: Drinking? See, they drink liquor, we drink the opposite. S**t, I be drinkin', but we don't drink what [the Irish] drink. We drink that purple stuff. Nah, I don't really drink liquor like that. I had a show with E-40 one time, and he came an recorded some songs in my room, and he was like, "Flip, you need to get you a bigger room boy, you're a star, you need to come up to my room." I went to that n***a's room, and he had a huge bar in his room, like a $5,000 room, so you know what I said? I said, "F**k this s**t, I'm going to have people treat me like a star too." I wanted limos, two bottles of Moet, two bottles of Hypnotiq. But really, liquor makes me wanna fight.
AllHipHop.com: What was your first taste of the purple stuff like?
Lil' Flip: Oh man, it was kinda like being around people who had it and they were just like, "Here, taste this." Then you f**kin' taste it, and it kinda gets ya. It's weird, dog. The more you do it, you get sucked into it. I'd say I've been drinking it since probably 1995, [age 13] actually.
AllHipHop.com: When you do drink a beer, what brand is it?
Lil' Flip: S**t, I'll never, ever, ever drink a beer. You'll never see me drink a beer ever in my life. I drink my liquor, and I drink champagne and s**t like that.
AllHipHop.com: So is the whole Clover G click hard drinking and hard smoking?
Lil' Flip: Nah, everybody kind of much do what they do. Some people don?t smoke, a few don't drink. Some just drink liquor, and everybody is their own individual. It's kind of like the smokers be on the left, and the drinkers be on the right side.
AllHipHop.com: You definitely have to be one of the most overachieving smokers of all time...
Lil' Flip: I mean, s**t man, that's what it's about, dog. I've been having that hustle in me for a long while. You see, when you're a part of a team, you understand how to lead a team. And when your part of the team and your not the leader, I've been on both sides of the coin, if I have to take the back seat and let somebody else drive, it's cool. Now if they ain't driving right, then I gotta step up, but it ain't nothing to me. It's simple mathematics.
AllHipHop.com: Last time I saw you Flip, you chose a Honey Phillie cigar over a Vanilla Dutch Master. In your opinion, what makes for the best blunt device?
Lil' Flip: A Phillie is better than a Dutch, because the Dutch breaks easy and they [taste] stronger. Put it like this, you have a Swisher Sweet, which will tear easier, then you have the Phillie, which is more sturdier. But the Phillie is better than the Dutch to me. I f**k with Phillies, I f**k with Swishers, and I f**k with these things they're called Golden Wraps.
AllHipHop.com: What was it like when you were a junior or senior in high school and "Diamonds All In Yo Face" came out on local radio?
Lil' Flip: See, people were already seeing me as a rapper, because I was on the radio. I always participated in talent shows, I played ball, so they knew me as an athlete and being dressed with the jewelry. I always rocked my jewelry, I always had money, it just felt good. Like, one day, I was walking down the hall, and a girl came up to me singing my lyrics man. It's an amazing feeling. I remember that when the song came out, it was about the time I had my first shows. The crowd knew that s**t word for word.
AllHipHop.com: You played ball in school, what position did you play?
Lil' Flip: I played Point Guard.
AllHipHop.com: What number did you wear?
Lil' Flip: Five.
AllHipHop.com: Just like Jason Kidd, who was with the Dallas Mavericks around that time.
Lil' Flip: By the time I was hooping, he'd probably just came into the league and everything. I wanted to do the 23 thing, but I just went with [number] five.
AllHipHop.com: What is Flip like on the court?
Lil' Flip: I'm a tricky dude. I got a few little moves that make you think I'm slow, and I got a couple little moves that make a person reach for it and I'm out. In basketball, what helped me is that I played football before I played hoops. I played Running Back, Quarterback, Kicker and Safety. Being that I played all those positions, you have to be fast. So applying what I learned in football to basketball, if I drive past you, I'm gone. There ain't no catching up.
AllHipHop.com: Master P played a little pro ball. Is there anything like that in the future for Lil' Flip?
Lil' Flip: To tell you the truth, if I was going to do it, I should have done it about four years ago.
AllHipHop.com: In Beef 3, it's clear that you've had your share of hometown conflicts. But you and Chamillionaire meshed very well on "Turn It Up."
Lil' Flip: I've been knowing Chamillionaire since about 2000. I told him if he did something for me, any time he needed me he can call and I'll return the favor. With me, I'll return the favor. Most artists don't keep their word in this f**king business.
AllHipHop.com: Since you knew Chamillionaire back then, You had to have known Paul Wall.
Lil' Flip: Yeah, they was together. I don't really mess with the dude like that. He used to call me everyday. When I got shot, he called and he told me they were praying for me. He asked me where I got shot and he got a tattoo in the exact same place I got shot - that said that date I got shot, he showed it to me one day. And then, [he] got the audacity to be smiling in the face of the dude that I'm beefing with [Slim Thug], while he was walking around with a Lil' Flip tattoo. At the end of the day, I don't care who you're friends with. But that's why I just f**k with Chamillionaire, that dude [Paul Wall] there, that dude ain't right.
AllHipHop.com: RIME magazine recently ran this story on the "History of Houston Rap," and Lil' Flip wasn?t mentioned once.
Lil' Flip: I looked at it, and I think they said my name, kind of at the end or something, in passing or something. Like I say, you have magazines that jump on the bandwagon. A lot of magazines call and look for an interview, but by the next week they?re sh**ting on you. They do this s**t a lot. I'm not one of those kiss-ass-type of artists. I'm gonna respect you, treat you with respect, I'm not going to be fake with you and tell you I'm going to do something I'm not going to do. If a DJ asks me for a freestyle, he can get it. But they get so blinded by these other artists calling them up all day. I'm not going to bug you to play my record. The days of people playing good music because it's good is over. It's all politics now.
AllHipHop.com: Is that why your stepping over to XM Satellite radio [Channel 66]?
Lil' Flip: That's not why, but because of the people who do know me, I'll always keep it 100%.
AllHipHop.com: Between the label, the liquor, the clothing, your work ethic is pretty strong. How did it develop?
Lil' Flip: Man, just growing up in my Grandparents house, seeing him work for a company for 45 years and s**t. My Grandfather worked for Maxwell House for a long time, and just seeing the type of s**t they went through, and how they were able to maintain their bill with whatever it was they were making. S**t, most people from my age from my neighborhood are still living with they parents. When "Diamond All In Yo Face" came out, I spray painted the wax gold and put it on my wall. An about a year later, I took it down and put up a real gold record.