Lil' Flip

Lil' Flip is a new champion of Southern hip-hop. The Houston native's style is as laconic as Too $hort and as unapologetically hook-heavy as MC Hammer. This isn't an innovation -- Memphis's Three 6 Mafia has been perfecting this blueprint for years. Like that notorious group, Flip, first introduced to a pop audience last year via David Banner's "Like A Pimp," is also introducing his great new double album U Gotta Feel Me in two different mixes: a regular version, and a "screwed & chopped" version that slows down the original and simulates a codeine trip.

The difference between Flip and those other guys, however, lies in his charisma. He is an unquestioned star, a smart writer with a cocky voice, a lazy but articulate flow, and an enjoyable amount of arrogance that fuels lyrics such as "Niggas are like roaches/When the lights on, they runnin'," on "Ain't No Party." Unlike his peers, he doesn't growl all over his producers' string-and-guitar-laden beats. Even on the "screwed & chopped" disc, his vocals have a confident bounce that adds to the psychotic aesthetic, especially on the lead single "Game Over (Flip)." Produced by Fury, the song is a Pac-Man-sampling head-bobber on the regular mix and an unsettlingly inert scorcher on the "screwed & chopped" mix.

It's still hard to argue that any rap music coming out of bawdy H-Town can ever be truly commercial in its defiant obscenity. But U Gotta Feel Me, through its startling string of four-minute rockers, comes as close as any Dirty South album ever has.

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Christopher O'Connor