Lil' Flip 'Back In The Zone' With New Label, LP, Reality Show

After several rocky years, Houston MC ready to return with I Got Mine.

Lil' Flip's last three years have been filled with one series of unfortunate events after another.

First, there was his well-publicized spat with T.I. (see "T.I. Squashes His Beef With Lil' Flip, Plans To Serve 25 To Life"), followed by a Ja Rule-like backlash for his pop hit "Sunshine." Then came a power struggle between the 26-year-old MC and his recording home, Sony Urban.

Things got so bad for the Houston rapper that at one point he said he felt like the people in charge of promoting his long-awaited project I Need Mine — due March 27 and now being released by Asylum Records — were actually working for his rival.

"I don't wanna say no names," Flip said. "But there was a person [at Sony] who worked for me that used to work for the person I was beefin' with. [And then] I did a song with Kelly Rowland, I was on the 'Can't Nobody' remix, but some dumbass engineer threw my second verse off so it sounds like I'm rapping off-beat. So we had to get that canned. Then the next opportunity comes, Beyoncé's 'Naughty Girl.' That sh-- comes out, cool, they play it everywhere. They wanna shoot the video, but it's, 'Oh well, we can't get the OK.'

"Meanwhile, the person I'm beefin' with," he continued, "had a song with Destiny's Child, 'Soldier,' that they shot a video for!"

That incident turned out to be the last straw for Flip, who began negotiating out of his contract. But bad luck struck the Leprechaun (a nickname he picked up in his Cloverland neighborhood) once again as a rough version of I Need Mine leaked to the Internet right before he signed a deal with Asylum. Flip estimates 19 of the 26 songs were lost in the process.

Flip re-recorded the album, keeping only nine of the remaining tracks, and bumped up the project to a robust 36 songs. He got the chance to lay down vocals with a range of guests including Chamillioniare, Mya, Three 6 Mafia, Mike Jones, MJG, Z-Ro and Rick Ross, who appears on Flip's first official single, "I Got Money."

"Fat Joe did it with 'Make It Rain,' so I had to take it to a different angle," Flip said of "I Got Money," which interpolates Audio Two's "Top Billin' " on the chorus: "I got money/ Money I got."

Flip even wrote the treatment for the video and is set to co-direct the clip with Bernard Gourley (Three 6 Mafia, Master P) in Las Vegas next week. "It's gonna be two big bosses," Flip revealed, noting that the video was inspired by the 2006 movie "Lucky Number Slevin," which starred Bruce Willis and Josh Harnett. "We're living in buildings across the street from each other and we're beefing, but at the end you find out we're in business together."

And speaking of business dealings, Flip said he has a few in development. He's working on a project that chronicles his rap career, and he's also about to begin shooting a reality series he created called "Lil' Flip's American Rapper." The show follows aspiring MCs as they learn media training, punctuality and networking skills. The winner will tentatively receive a two-album deal with Flip's company, as well as a financial prize.

"Now I'm back in my zone, where I got control over what I want to make," Flip said of his business and music. "I feel like [Sony] put my career on hold. If I didn't have show dates and know how to hustle, a mutha------ wouldn't have nothing, ya dig? For real."