I live close to Baltimore, but in comparison to other cities it’s not exactly known far and wide for its musical prowess. If only someone could help enlighten me and the rest of the world to the talent I know must be out there? Enter FLIPS, a YouTube series showcasing the quick resourcefulness of beat makers and producers in the Baltimore area. The short analysis of an average episode is artists pick a random genre of music out of a black box, pick some records from a record store of that genre, and make a beat in 30 minutes utilizing those records. I had the honor to meet with some of the gentlemen behind FLIPS and see what they’re all about. Derick Little (@DlowICON) did most of the talking.
Note: This interview was conducted face-to-face and recorded on June 28th, 2017, but it has been transcribed for clarity.
Dead End Hip Hop: Tell me about yourself.
Derick: Well, first I’m an artist, a producer second, and filmer third. Been filming for awhile. I’ve been filming since probably 2011-2012. Around the time I started picking up the camera and making music videos and stuff. I’m a local artist in Baltimore (East Baltimore), Maryland. I just started coming up with the idea like “Hey I should like, get a lot of producers known in Baltimore so I could do FLIPS.”
DEHH: That brings me to my next question, how exactly would you describe FLIPS?
Derick: FLIPS is a real good platform for beat makers that’s in [the] Baltimore City area. So like, I made this platform so a lot producers could get heard in Baltimore City, and so that pretty much they can be seen and know that we’re getting overlooked; make that fact known all around the world. So this is definitely like a local thing for other people all around to see what we’re doing and see what Baltimore has to offer as far as beat makers.
DEHH: Who’s involved with FLIPS? Who’s the team?
Derick: It’s me, it’s my boy Vlad (Vladimir Barnett, @Macvlad_), and it’s my boy Darian (Darian Jones, @_JonesAvenue_) on the social media posting, y’know everything relevant, keeping everything up to date with FLIPS, and up to date with social media and pop culture.
DEHH: When was the idea for FLIPS conceived?
Derick: It [FLIPS] was conceived probably about a half a year ago [2016ish-2017ish at the time of this interview]. I had the idea planned I just never went through with it. But now this year I said I’m gonna go through with it and make it happen so a lot of people can hear these producers that’s all around the surrounding Baltimore area.
DEHH: That’s a good goal. How does shooting a typical episode go? Like, is it all planned out or do you just kind of call someone?
Derick: Well essentially I go by a template. Pretty much I go and talk to the artist and let the artist know that “Hey, you gotta pick out of this black box of genres, from R&B, Jazz, Soul, Classical, Electronica, etc.” Those genres are the ones that they’ll be able to pick out, and once they pick that genre out, they pick 2-7 records. Physical copy, doesn’t necessarily need to be an album as far as a vinyl. It could be an 8-track, tape, CD, whatever’s a physical copy of an album. After they pick up their albums they go to their home, in their environment or studio. I give them time to listen, and after they’re done listening they get 30 minutes to cook up beats.
DEHH: For me it sounds like Chopped for beat makers. Just gotta go in, do it, whatever happens, happens.
DEHH: FLIPS is pretty young at the moment. Do you have any development plans down the road for it?
Derick: Yeah, this is pretty much the Beta season. This is just like a pilot to everything that FLIPS is going to have to offer. My major goal is to have this on a bigger platform, like a channel. It could be Fader, Viceland, but I really want it to be on Netflix since Netflix is a real good app where people want to go watch movies and shows or whatever sort. They could watch it anytime on Netflix so I think I would definitely love it if it could be on Netflix, and that’s my major goal for FLIPS.
DEHH: I think Netflix is definitely like, killing television. Netflix is probably the pinnacle. That’d be sweet if FLIPS could get up there. It might be like the first of its kind. You said this was to expose Baltimore producers and musicians and stuff, do you think any other cities are doing anything like this?
Derick: It’s a possibility. I for sure don’t look at it being like an idea that’s never been made. Mind you, my inspiration was from Rhythm Roulette from Mass Appeal. Like, I wanted to do it in my own way in order for Baltimore to get recognized because this is something that Mass Appeal doesn’t own, as far as doing beat compilations, beat challenges. And not to throw any shade to Mass Appeal or Rhythm Roulette, this is just something that needs to be done here in Baltimore. I don’t think a lot of, or any artists from Baltimore are on Rhythm Roulette. Like I said, it’s so a lot of producers in Baltimore could get recognized, and Baltimore producers won’t get overlooked. It’s definitely a good cause for producers and beat makers to get recognized and known. Everyone else that sees the music, the beat making, the whole idea of sitting at home, using what you got just to make your whole masterpiece.
DEHH: Undoubtedly. Because I don’t really get out to listening to as much music as I should be listening to, and I really don’t know many Baltimore artists, but I can name them if their from Chicago, New York, or Atlanta. Just not Baltimore. So I think it’s really good that you’re giving Baltimore a chance with this.
Derick: Defnitely. It not only gives an opening for producers and beat makers, it also gives a chance for other people to browse to sprout out and get out of that box and pretty much start to make beats. It gives people an uplifting feeling when they’re like “Hey, I wanna try to get into beat making. I wanna try to be able to be better than this producer, or be better than this producer, or this beat maker. I wanna think outside the box.” You know what I mean? It gives people the idea to go out there and do what you wanna do, do what you would love to do. And you can definitely make it happen. It definitely gives a lot of people hope, a lot of the younger crowd hope in doing this and to keep hip hop alive for beat makers to actually adventure out and have that time to go and look for beats instead of YouTubing samples and different sounds. Not saying those different sounds are not good to make a beat, but it gives you that real comfortable feeling like “Hey I actually went out and searched for this album, and chopped this up and made this.” You definitely have more appreciation to what you do.
DEHH: The actual process.
DEHH: And that’s something that you don’t really get to see unless you really dig for it. But it’s nice, it feels really homegrown. Natural.
Derick: Yeah, exactly.
DEHH: I’m just curious. Who are some of your favorite artists or artists who inspired you?
Derick: I would say a lot of artists like Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes. Those are like my two people that are down to earth and old-school that I looked up to when I was younger and still to this day. I listen to them every day. As far as now, I do get into Kid Cudi and Travis Scott, it’s not just the whole boom bap scene or jazz/soul/funk stuff. I’m also into some trap, not into all trap. It has to actually sound right. It has to give me that feeling like I want to listen to it on a daily basis. You know what I mean?
DEHH: Yeah. I think that’s about all I have, do you have any final thoughts?
Derick: I hope that people actually read this or listen to this and I can change some people into becoming beat makers or doing whatever they want to do in life. Giving people hope, because that’s the whole main idea of this platform for FLIPS. We’ll definitely be coming out with merch soon, t-shirts, hats, coming out with some stickers as well. So be on the lookout for that.
I’m not a hat person, but I would get one for FLIPS. So that’s the long and short of FLIPS at the moment, but the best way to understand is to watch the show on YouTube. I recommend you keep an eye on them. And to you Baltimore area cats, hit em up! Relevant links are below.