May 28, 2015

Lil' Flip - The Leprechaun (2000)

The hip hop world was a total mess by 1999. Left and right rappers were trying to imitate All Eyez On Me by releasing double album, multi-producer epics and the East coast lost traction and a style. The West coast's empire had fallen as well with Dre disappearing, 2Pac dying, Suge committing a high profile crime every day, and Snoop still not following up. The South--the heart arguably being Houston--had been on the map since the days of The Geto Boys and UGK, but was creeping fast to national radio and the charts with the second generation Southside's undeniable sweetness finally being recognized as New York and LA were in post-apocalyptic situations.

In many peoples' eyes, the burden for who killed hip hop lies on Master P, Puffy; and then there are the late 00s Youtube comments say Lil Wayne or Birdman. As much as I love all of these dudes (minus Puffy), I can definitely see how each of them ended up inspiring the trend of selling songs, failing to hold up a intriguing style, and disregarding the importance of the album listening experience. Lil' Flip was part product of this trend; part teenage millionaire enjoying fame and money, and part of the Houston hip hop scene and Screwed Up Click. Conversations I've had with people who do or don't claim to know a thing about hip hop always like to dismiss Southern rap as poor quality, repetitive, dumbed down shit. I instantly wonder if they've heard Mind Playing Tricks On Me, Choppaz, Body Roc, One Day, or Swangin and Bangin, but more likely than that they've heard Ridin' by Chamillionaire and Paul Wall instead. Nothing against them and rappers like them, but I wouldn't be able to sit through a full album from either of them because that's not what they were doing. Lil' Flip is the godfather of that style aesthetic and mentality with albums like his incredibly lazy sophomore effort, Da Undaground Legend. But while we can easily hate on Flip's later works and what he stood for, we can also find room in our music excursions to enjoy some of the dope things he did as well and not forget where he came from and sounded like in the early days.

The Leprechaun is very much a Screwed Up Click album, but I gotta give him credit for crafting something of himself at only 18 years old. Let's also not forget how multi-faceted Flip is and that even though he sounds a little lackluster when his 10 minute long freestyles aren't slowed.... he can do that. Flip, on this album at least, is a treat to listen to. Maybe it reminds me of growing up in my own southern city, or maybe the album rides great on its lovely feel, or maybe the features are all amazing, or maybe it's because I Can Do Dat is legendary and convinced me of any doubts I had of this album. The Leprechaun is dope, definitely listen to it, but do not use Flip as an intro to Houston and other Southern rap because he only represents the side many people hate--this shit is stuff you'll understand much better after listening to Keke, Screw, Hawk, Pat, and Moe.

Sample 1
Sample 2

The Leprechaun