Since 2004’s modestly successful U Gotta Feel Me, Lil’ Flip’s luck seems to have run out. After T.I. dealt a crushing blow to Flip’s credibility with a slew of scathing dis records, including the infamous Gangsta Grillz: Down With the King mixtape, Flipperache’s contribution to Houston rap’s current surge in popularity seems to be all but forgotten. So with his fourth album, I Need Mine, the Freestyle King desperately wants to be taken seriously, but appears to have lost a bit of his swagger.
While Flip repeatedly brags about never writing his lyrics down as if it’s a good thing, the lack of creative focus shows in each clichéd, forgettable rhyme. On the Nate Dogg–assisted “Take You There,” Flip delivers impotent pickup lines over the Synphony’s sugary sound bed of organs and cowbells. The same lackluster effort is put into the ultrasmooth “Sorry Lil’ Mama,” where Flip lazily spits game: “What’s ya name? Where you from girl?/I got a presidential suite, you can come girl.” Then there’s the flimsy acoustic guitar ballad “I Need 2 Find My Way,” where Flipper seems to have listened to Jay-Z’s “Moment of Clarity” one too many times. “A lot of cats selling their soul for radio play/That’s why we need more rappers like Common and Kanye,” he says, paraphrasing Hov, completely unaware of the irony.
All is not lost for Flip, though, he manages to make up for the failed attempts at mass appeal with more gutter tracks, like the irresistible anthem “I’m a Balla (Flip My Chips)” and the thundering “3, 2, 1, Go!” which features Three 6 Mafia. But Flip sounds most comfortable on the Carnival Beats–produced “Starch & Cleaned,” where he says, “The whole world like, Flipper where the fuck you been? On vacation ridin’ in my Maybach Benz.” Based on I Need Mine, maybe Flip should have spent more time on his job. —BRENDAN FREDERICK