Lil Flip was one of the first bigger artists in the mid 2000s to come out of Houston, leading a wave of H-Town rappers that went on to go platinum. After selling over 23 million records worldwide, Lil Flip is mainly out of the mainstream eye now but is thriving independently. Flip started off in the streets known as “The Freestyle King” and came up with the legendary Screwed Up Click, so being independent coming out of Texas is nothing new for him. Although working hard in many different industries, Flip is also dropping two full projects this week as well.

We caught up with Flip about his new music, other ventures and how he’s maintained a busy career without mainstream coverage. Flip covers everything from his spat with T.I. to his new weed strain and more—read on to see what he had to say.

People don’t realize how much you grind. You started in the underground and now you’re back to the underground once again, but thriving.

I’m just working and even when I did the major deal, I felt like I was independent. A lot of people get their deal and they’re like, ‘okay I’m on a major so I don’t have to do nothing.’ I was still doing verses with whoever I wanted to do verses with, still working with whoever I wanted to. I never alienated myself from working with the others, the underdogs or the people that’s actually trying to do something and get out of the situation. So I just stay working.

What’s the difference really from being on a major to be an independent?

For me there’s no difference. The only difference is you got people with connections who know different schemes, and do different deals with people that is in power. But you may know the same people man, so the main focus is basically if you want to be lazy then you sign with a major. If you want to be hands on with all of your work, then you be independent. So that’s just my motto. The same people you can approach them, but this game is on relationships. A lot of times people say it’s just about money but it’s who you know as well. Some people might just not take your money but there’s people at the major labels they got connections because they’re running a whole bunch of the artists through certain channels, so it’s really just a connection thing man and how you play your cards and how you treat people.

One thing I did notice is you have a song with just about every hot Latino rapper out. How did those relationships develop?

That’s worldwide! I’m going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records pretty soon; I’m on 5000 albums.

5000!? Wow.

Bro, I do like 20 to 30 verses a week. We travel. When I go to the club and do these shows, I take pictures with the fans, the bartenders you know? I stay and talk to the security guards working, look out for all of them. I’ll talk to these artists that are opening up. Mentor them and give them copies of my book. You know I got a book called Don’t Let the Music Industry Fool You I put out two years ago.

Most of these other artists, when they sell platinum, they go to people’s towns and try to not spend no more money in the community but you know me, I’m going to the barbershop! I’m just Hollyhood, not Hollywood man. The Screwed Up Click always had a lot of Latino fans and stuff, so I did music with artists like South Park Mexican, you know what I’m saying. We had two songs on my album and we also did a movie together called H-Town Mob.  I just got fans of every race and in areas that others can’t go to. I got fans of every race.

What are the things business-wise are you working people don’t know about?

Man, I started back painting. I painted pictures for 2Chainz, Beast Mode, I gave Z-Ro a painting a couple weeks ago.

What type of painting? Scenery? Still?

I used to do scenery when I was young because that’s what everybody had in their restaurants: mountains, boats and water. I got burnt out on that. Then I got hooked on all characters, cartoon characters and I got burned out on that. Now I’m not doing abstract— doing “Flipstract.”

I got a tattoo shop in San Antonio called Time Bomb. I got my own air freshener called Birthday Cake. I got the book, I got the app called Flip App, I got an app called The LangBridge app. I got an MMA fighter named Tony Nguyen, he has a championship belt and we just got him up in a commercial with Chuck Norris. So we have that MMA game, we have the tattoo game, I just partnered up with a store that’s about to open in the Galleria in Houston, so you know I’m just doing a lot, working smart not hard. And that’s just a few of the things that we’re promoting right now.

Critics will say Lil Flip hasn’t been poppin’ since the T.I. beef. Did that really affect how the majors or any of the industry people mess with you? Or is that just something that the fans fixate on?

You got two kinds of people, man. Those that move in the shadows, and people that go by what they see. Everybody on TV ain’t rich. Everybody that’s rapping that’s tough talk can’t go to every city. I’ve been a star since I was a kid. Around that time [with Tip] I had just had a son, so I was already on some more, focus on being a father type of s*it. My whole family’s been in music so I’ve been at clubs and performing since I was a kid, you feel what I’m saying? At that point I was getting ready to switch labels, I didn’t like this s*it that was going on at the labels. Like I told you I’m independent, so I had so many mixtapes I was making so much money off. I don’t have to sit and wait on no major to give me the budget, because I’m picking up money every week. At the end of the day I told these idiots in the beginning, I want the money not the fame. With that said, some people like to move in the shadows, I like to get my money and go home. You ain’t gonna see me at every award show—if I ain’t performing or I ain’t presenting I’ll watch that s*it from home. So that’s my logic but I do what I want to do and everywhere I go, we sell out. The streets f*ck with me ’cause I f*ck with them.

Tell us about the Dabbin In Denver project dropping today. The concept is obvious but how did it come together?

Denver’s like my second home, I call it Never Never Land. Just the whole energy and vibe is different. I’m really big on energy. If I feel like you got bad energy I’ll separate myself from you. In the studio we work and have good vibes. I don’t even have my phone on me when I’m in the studio because somebody could call me or text me with some bulls*it, f*cking with my vibe. But every time I go to Denver and Colorado Springs it’s nothing but good times, I don’t let nobody take me out my zone.

When I’m out there I f*ck with all the shooters, all the trappers, all the rappers, all the growers, all the dispensaries. Multi-millionaires—some of them are billionaires—Speakeasy, The Lazy Line, Altitude, Kind Love. Even my barber Freddi K is out there, he’s from Houston but he lines me up in Denver. We used to have the smoke studio with the art, you know. Simes Carter he made like 50 percent of the beats, I got my homie Slick on there. Like I said most people go to the city, stay in they hotel, be antisocial. I’m going to f*ck with the streets and with everybody. So everybody that show me love giving me shirts, give me other goodies, when I come in town that’s my way of showing love back. So I basically made this for all the dispensaries, all the growers, all the artists, the restaurants, they show me love. The venues, all the little spots I f*ck with. It’s one big ass thank you card for all the people that show me love in Denver and all the people that show me love and Colorado Springs.

Do you have any strains, any medical marijuana products coming out?

I got my own strain I did with the Bunny Father in Michigan, my strain is called Cloverland Kush. So we just waiting on a couple more things and my dispensaries approval, but my seeds are already out there. And I did a deal with Genius Pipes, I got my pipes coming out. I got a few strains coming out just the first one is called Cloverland Kush.

2Chainz recently made a comment saying Justin Bieber may have been the reason that Activis the syrup company shutdown. What’s your take on lean and the new age that’s doing it, or are you still sipping?

Hey man, I only drink what my doctor to prescribe me. [laughs]

I don’t know what these young guys be drinking, man. I don’t know the reason why Activis shut down but I know a lot of it has to do with the glamorizing that a lot of these people doing. They just being out of control just doing it, just to do it. A lot of people don’t really know what they’re doing but they already know who started this double cups—Screwed Up Click, we did that but yeah you just gotta be smart with what you do. A lot of people just doing it to say they doing it. I know people that are buying NyQuil, just putting it out there. They just running wild right now, it’s really a lost generation. Anything they see someone else do, they just follow it.

You said you have another project coming out on July 13 called 713 Degrees In Houston?

It comes out in three days on 7/13 and there’s a lot of stuff going on in the streets with the media, the police and basically we’re on some unity s*it. I got some of the legends from Houston and I got some of the new cats and I mixed them all together. It’s been like 10 years since me and Paul Wall did a record together so I got the first single with him called “Summer Breeze.” It’s me, Paul Wall and my homie named Jhiame. There’s a record called “713 Degrees In Houston” with C-Note, Big T, that’s the guy who sang the “Wanna Be A Baller” hook with the Lil Troy song. Got some new cats called Thug Mafia, an artist by the name of Freon, we got J. Napoleon. I just mixed up the new guys with the older guys. We’re showing unity, so hopefully artists around the world follows suit. The plan is to stimulate other people and use their area code to put each other together. Next we’re going to try to do it in Miami, 305 Degrees in Miami. We gonna get some new guys, get some of the legends and we drop an album, take it worldwide. Because a lot of times people may be feeling like the older cats hate all the younger cats and sometimes that’s true. Don’t get it twisted though—there’s some people that sit back and be bitter, but there’s still some of us OGs in the game that we’ve been through a lot with these young kids and we got them so it’s all good.

Dabbin’ In Denver is only available on Lil Flip’s app