Houston, we have a problem: "Because of me they respect H-Town," Lil' Flip touts on I Need Mine, appointing himself sheriff of hip-hop's Wild Wild West. But he's nearly abandoned the syrupy, screwed and chopped stuff that made his home base famous. "Can't U Tell" (featuring Tennessee producer DJ Squeaky and " 'ho-ologist" MJG) is the trillist collabo on the album, and crunkish head-nodder "3, 2, 1 Go!," with Memphis's Three 6 Mafia, is the trillist track. But the Nate Dogg G-funk outtake "Take You There" just sounds outdated, and unlike Mike Jones's and Paul Wall's recent efforts, many of Flip's beats here are outsourced to nationally minded producers everybody and their moms are using right now (like Mannie Fresh and Scott Storch), giving Mine a more diverse soundscape but less local color.
Still, Lil' Flip will always be a dope-ass name, because the L-I-L isn't so much a throwaway prefix as a bona fide part of his moniker, underscoring his vociferous minimalism. As he says on "Ghetto Mindstate (Can't Get Away)," "Where I'm from/I only know one thing/How to get paid." He's working smart, not hard, to maintain.