Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN pour up and smoke with rapper Lil Flip, who gives insight into his rise to fame, the landscape of Texas hip hop, and much more. A protege of Houston rap pioneer DJ Screw, Flip built his reputation off of his ability to freestyle for extended periods of time, earning him an induction into the Screwed Up Click, Screw’s collective of local H-Town rap stars. Releasing his debut album, The Leprechaun, independently in 2000, the rapper gained a loyal following with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, piquing the interest of various major labels. In 2002, Flip inked a joint venture with Columbia Records and released his sophomore album, Undaground Legend, which produced the hit “The Way We Ball” and went certified platinum. Capitalizing on the momentum, he doubled back with his platinum-selling third album, U Gotta Feel Me, in 2004, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and was led by the smash single “Game Over (Flip).” His most successful album to date, U Gotta Feel Me put the star at the forefront of the Houston rap scene. With over two decades in the game and nearly two dozen studio albums on his resume, Flip is one of the most accomplished rappers from his hometown and remains one of its favorite sons.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Lil Flip episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. The Backstory Behind “Game Over”
In 2004, Flip played to the nostalgia of Pac Man enthusiasts with his single “Game Over (Flip),” which peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest entry on the chart at that point in time. However, if it was up to him, the song would’ve never seen the light of day. “It’s all good because I didn’t wanna rap over the Pac Man beat no way,” he says in reference to a lawsuit levied against him for copyright infringement for the track. “An A&R at the time, he was like, ‘Man, rap on this beat.’ But at the time, Beanie Sigel, he had a record called ‘Mac Man’ to the Pac Man beat. It was some cats from my town, they had remade it. So, I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t wanna do it ‘cause it’s too fresh.’ I get down to the end of the album, he’s like, ‘Hey, what will it cost for you to rap on it.’ I said, ‘Give me thirty grand.’ He said, ‘Okay, cool.’ So, he flew me to New York. I walked in, the music came on... That’s why when I did the ‘Game Over’ [intro], I start off saying, ‘Ah shit y’all done fucked up.’ I was trying to curse, so it would not be a record to go to radio.”
2. His History With The Wu-Tang Clan
The average rap fan wouldn’t associate Flip with the Wu-Tang Clan. But, prior to pursuing his own career, he once crossed paths with the crew from Shaolin. “I met Wu-Tang when they were pushing the record “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man,” the rapper admitted. “It’s a store in my hood called Active Athlete and they came there, and it was a record [store] next door called Stickhorse [Records]. And they had they Maxi EP and they gave me the record... and I knew about Wu-Tang. And then eight years later, I ended up signing with Loud, being their label-mates and going to Europe with Wu-Tang, and then RZA put me on the record on the Blade Trinity [soundtrack]. Just seeing how they netted together like a brotherhood, it’s not [like work]. Like the Screwed Up Click, being around DJ Screw, we never felt like we was at work.”
3. Squashing His Beef With T.I.
One of the more memorable beefs in southern rap history occurred when Flip and T.I. went blow for blow in 2004, and unleashed a flurry of diss tracks aimed at one another. Fortunately, the beef subsided before things got out of hand, which Flip touches on when asked about a rumored altercation between him and Tip at the height of their feud. “I plead the [fifth] on what happened,” the “The Way We Ball” rapper says. “But me, him and J. Prince, we sat down and we had a conversation and the agreement was, ‘You don’t say nothing else about him, I won’t say nothing else.’ So, that’s pretty much where I gotta leave it, but everything’s great, man.”
4. His Musical Influences
When asked of the rap artists who influenced him to pick up the mic himself, Flip credits a few legendary southern rap groups. “For me, first [it was] Geto Boys, then UGK, then Eightball & MJG,” he shares. “I got on Odd Squad music like a little bit later. Even though I knew the full history of Rap-A-Lot, but I got on their music after Devin [the Dude] really came out. I went back to it, like ‘Okay.’ I forget the blind rapper [that was in the group], he was pretty dope.”
5. Two Artists On His Bucket List He’d Like To Work With
For many artists, there’s always one contemporary they hold in high regard that they have yet to collaborate. When asked about who those artists are for him, Flip’s response may surprise you. “Sade,” he reveals. “That’s cause my mom, she used to play that. Sade and Jadakiss. I was gonna do one with him for my King Life album. I was gonna put him on a [DJ] Premier beat, but the timing [was off]. Like, I couldn’t get with Premier in time [and he’s from Texas]... I’ma probably do it on my movie soundtrack. I’ma get my record with Jadakiss. My biopic coming. Undaground Legend, that’s the name of it.” The ultimate facilitator that he is, N.O.R.E. decided to hit Jadakiss on FaceTime upon hearing the news, and the New York MC announced that Flip’s dream collaboration is officially in the works. So, stay tuned.
6. His Affinity For New York Hip Hop
While Flip’s hometown pride is unquestioned, he’s quick to acknowledge his adoration for New York hip hop, which he credits with informing his artistry and approach to making music. “One of my albums, it was called El Jefe, an H-Town dude with a New York attitude,” he notes. “So, like, when I do my albums, in my mind, I’m doing, 50% for where I come from, our culture, and then the other half, I’m like, ‘Okay, what my people in New York gonna wanna hear?’ So, I always made sure I made both kinds of music. Music for the women, your catchy little club records and then your lyrical records. That’s why when I went and did a lot of music with Cam’Ron, Jim Jones and I was on all of the Whoo Kidd mixtapes with 50 [Cent] and [Young] Buck. Buck is my guy. I had to let ‘em know that we don’t just rap about candy paint. That’s cool, but my album ain’t gonna be that. So, I grew up to Big L, Black Sheep and all that. Children of the Corn, all that, man.”
7. The Differences Between Being A Major Label Artist and Being Independent
One question that’s frequently asked to artists visiting the “Drink Champs” is whether they prefer being signed to a major label or going the independent route. For Flip, who’s experienced both, he says that his grind and willingness to hit the pavement makes being independent more up his alley. “It’s the same,” the Freestyle King starts. “Even when I was on a major, I never acted like I had a deal. You know how some people get the deal and they’re like, ‘Aight, we ain’t gotta do nothing, wait for them.’ Man, we’re still gonna hustle. We always financed our own videos, so it didn’t really matter to me being on a major. I’ll tell anybody, if you’re lazy, sign with a major. If you wanna grind and build relationships on your own, and own your shit, [be independent] because if you sign with somebody and you leave, you don’t know how it’s [gonna] go. They gonna have all the contacts. So, I pride myself on going to different towns, and I can call promoters and artists I do records with. A lot of artists, they hide behind their management and you can’t call ‘em. You do a record with a person, they won’t even post it. You buy a verse from me, I’ma post the flyer ‘cause I want you to eat. I want you to come back.”
8. N.O.R.E. Once Took A Karate Class With Wesley Snipes
N.O.R.E.’s time in the music industry has afforded him the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities from all walks of life, resulting in legendary stories involving random superstars, one being Wesley Snipes. “One night, I was hanging with Wesley Snipes,” N.O.R.E. reveals. “I’m being honest. This is a long time ago, this is before Blade, and this nigga, in my mind, he was purple. I walked in, this nigga said like this, ‘N.O.R.E., you good?’ And then two Asian bitches just went downstairs. And I don’t know what they did, so I can’t technically say that they sucked him off. I can’t say that, but what I can say is they just sitting down and he just kept going like this to me, ‘You know ‘cause you fucking with me, N.O.R.E.’ I said, ‘Wesley, you that nigga.’ I looked in his eyes, I said damn, Wesley, god damn it, you’s chocolate. Now let me tell you something, the next day, this nigga had me go to a karate class. This is how you really know I liked Wesley as a person. I’ve never been a fan of karate my whole life. Fuck karate, what the fuck you wanna do karate for? I’ma shoot you, what the fuck?’ And I went with Wesley to a karate class. This nigga had a whole karate school, my nigga.”
9. His Foray Into The Gaming Industry
A hustler always keeps a new trick up his sleeve and for Flip, who’s involved in everything from art to podcasts, his newest venture involves gaming. “I got one for the kids called Lil Flip Saves Christmas,” he shares while showing off the game to the camera. “I’m on the sleigh, on swangas. So basically, this the simple game right here, you basically gotta just ride through the hood and not hit the Christmas trees. But, it get faster and faster. And then my cousin died, so on that sign right there, it says ‘R.I.P.’ Every time you pass it, you’ll see ‘R.I.P.’ to my cousin, I dropped this game on his birthday, Dec. 11. But look, I got two of ‘em. Now, this one, this a fight game. This that H-Town Fight, you can fight with me, DJ Screw, Paul Wall, Slim Thug. We wanna do New York next.”