Thursday, 22 December 2016

Lil' Flip - The Leprechaun (2000)

I bought this one from Amazon, which offered me the opportunity to spread the good news of my having purchased a CD by sharing it on facebook. Being a good capitalist, I did just that because I like to keep my friends informed about my daily purchases. Thus did the album cover show up on my facebook page, inspiring my friend Eddy's comment of I'd hang onto the receipt for that one, if I were you.

Yes, I've also seen the cover show up in social media driven lists of worst rap album artwork of all-time, or Pen & Pixel's weirdest affronts to common sense or whatever; but I personally believe they have it all wrong, and that this might actually be one of the greatest record covers of all time. I mean seriously - look at the thing. Say you've just come across it in the record store. You take it from the racks and, having returned your eyeballs to their sockets, you stare at that cover, and somehow your brain fails to formulate a thought amounting to fuck - I gotta hear this shit right now!?

I should fucking cocoa.

I suppose The Leprechaun is old enough to be considered a classic. Classic might be a bit of an overstatement, but it is a great debut. Lil' Flip was dubbed the Freestyle King by DJ Screw - with whom he was loosely associated - which naturally he mentions once or twice on the album, thus giving the impression of having won formal competitions. It might be argued that the claim is undermined when, during the introduction, Flip promises to freestyle the first and last tracks on the record, because if he's that amazing, why not just freestyle the lot? His freestyles aren't bad - and in case anyone still didn't get the memo, freestyle means just making that stuff up on the spot - but there are probably a million more deserving of the regal title. He sounds kind of young on this album, and is prone to bigging himself up as the young tend to be, in contrast to which he's good but by no means the greatest rapper you will have heard if you've bothered to listen to anything since the Treacherous Three.

Yet, no matter what the objection, it's impossible to think poorly of the guy and The Leprechaun is still a great record. The beats are in the vague area of what you might expect given Flip's point of origin - smooth soulful sounds scored to stuttery rhythms of the kind No Limit were so good at before they blew it and ditched their best producers - and a leisurely southern pace in accordance with the climate. I've been to Houston a few times and that place is like the surface of the fucking sun for about half of the year.

What seals the deal is Flip's personality, at least as he speaks it here. There's a little gunplay but not a whole lot, and very little outlaw material. He's funny, not particularly prone to overuse of naughty words, and openly boasts of not caring for either alcohol or the ciggies - although this potential straight edgery is somewhat negated by the lad's stated fondness for purple drank, which the internet describes as a mixture of a prescription cold medication with a soda drink like Sprite or Mountain Dew, plus ice and Jolly Rancher candies often added for colour and taste. The cold medication should contain promethazine (an antihistamine) and codeine. There's plenty materialism, but I'm guessing Flip may have earned the right to get excited about occasionally getting milk on his cereal instead of tap water. The bragging comes with an unexpected self-deprecating undertone and doesn't even quite sound like bragging so much as a young dude astonished by his own good fortune.

In summary, Lil' Flip comes across as a genuinely nice guy and The Leprechaun is a summery kind of album which makes you feel happy when you listen to it. It's as simple as that. It isn't gangsta, and it isn't - ugh - positive rap. It's just good music.

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