Cruising through the dense streets of Manhattan in a tinted black SUV, Flipp Dinero is humble, reserved and inconspicuous even on his home turf. But he’s no stranger to standing out.
The Brooklyn-bred rap talent’s melodizing hip-hop swag is birthed from a youth filled with flutes, drums and other instruments he learned from the early age of 7. His artistry beams at the top tier of DJ Khaled’s We The Best record label. His raspy voice, accented by Haitian Creole bilingualism, signatures his platinum-selling 2018 breakout hit, “Leave Me Alone,” as well as his sophomore effort, Love For Guala.
After the success of a smash like “Leave Me Alone,” most newly-emerging artists would kick their feet up and enjoy the fruits of beginner’s luck before taking a second swing. Flipp, however, used the moment as his momentum, working up more radio-attractive singles (“Wanna Ball”), beefing up stage performances at festivals like Rolling Loud, and positioning himself for the follow-up to his The Guala Way debut EP.
In the public eye, he’s also earned cosigns from Toronto’s hip-hop behemoth Drake and the Cleveland Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. in addition to opening for Beyoncé and Jay-Z on the duo’s On The Run II tour. But behind the scenes in 2019, the 24-year-old was quietly cooking up the next installment in his discography.
Released on Friday (November 22), the 13-track Love For Guala project brings Flipp full circle. With a handful of features from fellow Brooklynite Jay Critch, fellow Haïtien Kodak Black, Queens-born trap star Rich The Kid and Atlanta-bred dripper Lil Baby, the project is perfectly symmetrical. Its balance teeters between lyrical-savvy cuts (“Fritolays,” “Till I’m Gone”), airplay-friendly vibes (“Looking At Me,” “Westside”), and of course, the fan-favored hit “Leave Me Alone.”
BET spent a day with Mr. Guala for a quick round of 21 questions to learn about his love for Haiti, his spiritual foundation as a man of faith, what having an affection for guala actually means to him, and more fun facts.
"It’s pretty much rice and beans with chicken. I grew up on that. My pops cooked it every day."
"I speak to [my mom] about understanding my generation, not really the U.S. Like, she doesn’t understand tattoos. I’m tatted everywhere, but she thinks they are an abomination—period. She doesn’t like rap music. She doesn’t like when people say negative sh** in music and it’s glorified, which is why I make happy music all the time! She also doesn’t like the fact that weed is becoming legal but f**k it [laughs]. There’s a lot of things I find myself explaining to my mom about this generation, but as I get older and she gets older, she understands where I’m coming from."
"Brooklyn. That’s the only borough you can go at like two in the morning to get a bacon, egg and cheese."
"Tour life. I love working. I’d rather be working than chilling."
"Hollywood. I’m trying to get up out of the hood."
"I never was vocal with my fingers. I’d rather post a picture and let it rock."
How do you feel about Instagram removing likes?
"I do feel like our generation is too caught up in Instagram and what other people have to say. They direct their lives by the direction of other people’s words and being accepted. How many people do we know who want to jump off a cliff over not getting a thousand likes on a picture or something? People look at you different when you have 10,000 or 20,000 likes. So I can understand why they took it away, but then damn, you stopping a lot of people’s bags. There’s a lot of influencers who eat off of that."
"I just had an interesting conversation with TT Torrez, and she was putting me on to stocks and real estate. She definitely was telling me about purchasing land down south."
"NBA. I like basketball. I used to play ball—varsity basketball, actually."
"Flute. I like Lizzo; that’s shawty with the flute, right? I love her. It’s just something about [a flute]. It’s a very Haitian sound to me. It has a Caribbean flair, and I know how to play the sh**. So seeing people play it is nostalgic. I feel connected."
"Immigration laws. We have a president right now who is not fit to be in office, and he’s currently going through a process to get impeached. He’s definitely said something about Haitians, and I’m first-generation, as we talked about. My best friend [who I also call my brother], who I’ve made music with since I was young, is Mexican. So, to even see what Trump is doing to Mexicans and his comments about Haitians, it pushed me to be more on top of my immigration law knowledge. So, I’d definitely tackle that first."
"The obvious is Love For Guala means “love for money.” But to me, guala stands for, “God’s unique accolade life acquired.” The reason I say that is because I feel we’re all blessings to life and we’re all blessed with life. It’s a way of living. I love money, and I love expensive, flashy things. Love for money, Flipp Dinero. Everything fits together."
"I definitely agree with that, I ain’t gonna lie. But, it’s how you use money too. I feel some people find themselves grounded in money. They find happiness in it. The point is not to find happiness in money, it’s to open opportunities to make yourself happy. Sometimes, it’s the people without money that be the happiest. Why’s that? Because they just have a connection with life. So, my love for money comes from me just wanting to find more opportunities to my put people on and put a smile on their faces."
"Wyclef Jean. He set a trend for Haitians a long time ago when it wasn’t popular to be Haitian. I worked with his family members, and that’s the closest I’ve been to him. They’ve even given me the approval [to work with him]."
"Morocco. I have a lot of Morrocan friends and they always explain to me how it’s just a vibe out there. A different type of life."
"Gospel. It’ll move me emotionally, and I’ll just feel better about myself. I’d wake up everyday knowing I’m listening to some positive sh**—that’s cool."
"Skateboarding with Lil Wayne. I’m a skateboarder, and I want to see if Wayne can skate, too. That’s really nostalgic for me. I want to see if he can really skate."
"Man, it’d be times when a n**ga will feel like giving up or times that I question what’s really going on. But I have to understand that even Jesus went through things. So, I always keep my head up through trials and tribulations, and poke my chest out. It just helps keep me grounded mentally and spiritually. I feel better as an individual just speaking to God as opposed to speaking to someone else about my issues."
"That’s true. I hold grudges, but only toward people I don’t f**k with. I’m a loving person, though! I’ll do anything for the people I love, but if someone does something bad to me, I’ll always remember it. I’ll always look at you and have that in mind."
"Never stop. Literally those two words—never stop. Because he told me that, that’s why I’m still here. My big brother Joey BadA$$ told me everyone is always watching, so make sure you’re watching, too. I’m always watching everyone and always questioning intentions."
"I’m more open and more vibrant. I was definitely more accepting of different sounds for this project versus staying in one lane—like trap, trap, trap. I tried to venture out. I made emotional music and motivational music. I made pain music."
"I want my fans and family to know that we’re here to stay. There’s more to Flipp than what you think it is. More than just 'Leave Me Alone.' We got 'How I Move,' we got 'Looking At Me.' I want them to see that I’m vibrant, energetic and passionate about my craft."
(Photo: Evans Alexandre/ BET)