When Flipp Dinero unleashed his breakout single “Leave Me Alone” in 2018 the Brooklyn rapper had no idea the song would blow up the way that it did. After NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. shared a video of himself dancing to the record, the song went viral and shone a whole new light on Dinero.
“I didn’t think it was going to blow up the way it did. But I definitely knew it was a special track because it was just relatable,” he recollects. “I knew it was something about it, just the melody and the cadence. I ain’t think it would blow up the way that it did but I’m happy it did.”
The platinum-selling single helped Dinero get co-signs from Drake and Fat Joe, earn a spot as an opener for Tory Lanez on his Memories Don’t Die tour, notch a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and ink a record deal with DJ Khaled’s We The Best imprint. But after so much early success, how does Dinero intend on keeping the buzz alive? Love For Guala—-his debut album—-is exactly how.
Although he’s been rapping for a mere 2 years, releasing his first compilation was already planned. Before the newfound hype, Dinero was already a fixture in the studio recording as many songs as he could.
“The album was already there, it was pretty much a matter of when am I going to put it out,” he says when asked how the idea for the album came about. Love for Guala is a collection of melodic tunes with Dinero’s raspy sing-song flow draped all over beats by Tay Keith, DJ Khaled, Ben Billions, CastBeats and more.
“Straight up, I know people are going to have love for this, for me, despite whatever they say,” he says confidently from the comfort of his seat at the VIBE office. “I’m telling my fans and new listeners all types of stories. Emotional stories, the ignorant stories, the stories to help motivate them.”
These stories come from his time growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Dinero was raised in a very strict Haitian household in Canarsie, a neighborhood nestled in the city’s southeast section. Although his parents provided everything he needed, the world outside his home had him see and experience things that tested his mettle. “Growing up in Canarsie was very challenging. I had a sweet childhood. My mother and father both were around in my life, but it was just the area itself,” he says. “The negativity that surrounded the area was tough, but I mean I persevered. It helped build my character as an individual.”
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It took years for Flipp to shape his character. Growing up in a Haitian household molded him into the smart, humble man that he is today. Like many children of Caribbean immigrants, life consisted of keeping your head in the books, chipping away at a large number of chores and a stern practice of faith. “My mother and father made me go to church every Sunday. There were so many Haitian morals being instilled in me as far as it goes with what I listen to, what I’m able to do, the time I’m able to stay out until,” he recalled.
Rap wasn’t always Flipp’s plan for the future. He originally wanted to be a general practitioner and was set on doing so with those values his family taught him, but music had too much of an impact on him. Inspired by the sounds of artists like Jadakiss, Eazy-E, 2Pac, Dennis Brown, Bobby Caldwell, Sister Nancy, and more, Dinero found himself exploring his musical tastes. Dinero was enrolled at the Borough of Manhattan Community College but left after three years to pursue music.
“I was in college doing my thing but I knew the music was always something I wanted to do because it was always something I envisioned myself doing,” he explains. “Everything about me was musically inclined. I listened to all types of music and I always performed in front of people, I played in the church, I played instruments in the church, I sang in the choir at school, in the choir at church, sang in the crib all by myself. I was just into music.”
Music captured Dinero’s adolescent mind when his parents enforced their strict rules. While at home studying he’d take a peek out the window to see the kids in the neighborhood enjoying themselves, and he hated every minute that he wasn’t out there. “I’m not gonna lie, in those times when I did see people have fun, I wasn’t having fun,” he remembers. Eventually, the streets would lure the “How I Move” rapper into the many dangers people in urban settings face but he kept a strong will to make it out due to his morals and passion for music.
“Those were the times where it would lead me to be on my poetry sh*t or be on my melodic sh*t since I couldn’t be out there all the time when I was younger,” he said. “So I’d rather listen to music. Doing that helped build me up and as I got older I understood that individuality and staying to yourself is the key sometimes.”
That same individuality shines throughout Love For Guala. On top of the warbling, Dinero blends a bouncy rap flow into his singing as evidenced on tracks like “If I Tell You,” “Shawty Do You,” and “Looking At Me” featuring Rich The Kid. What stands out though is Dinero’s singing with his smooth cadences and catchy melodies —- something he says he’s been developing even before his rapping. “Singing was the first thing I did before rap and I wrote poetry too,” he remembers. “Singing and writing poetry, mixing both just so happened to turn into rapping. It was just my way of expressing myself.”
On the standout record, “Till im Gone” featuring Kodak Black, Dinero raps about the work he put in to get to where he is. “Smokin’ all this dope, it got me thinkin’, How I land here?/ I ain’t never love, ’cause honestly, I never played fair/ All up through the struggles, honestly, I had to stay clear/ Why you hatin’ on me in my hood? I cannot stay there/ Tryna live a lovely life, I live it, have sustain there,” he raps.
And Dinero wastes no time expressing himself on the 13-track album. On the opener, “Intro,” listeners get a much more personal side of Dinero right from the start. “Ever since I was a young ni**a, I spazzed out/ Even when I was a youngin’, always went through mad doubt/ Always went and tell my mama how I move, I stand out/ Only in it for the commas, I don’t need no handouts,” Dinero sings on the chorus. From then on, he locks in and delivers honest takes on love, money and the various turns a relationship can take.
When an artist applies the laser-like focus that Dinero has with his music the result works in favor of the artist. It’s what Dinero used to tie Love for Guala together. It dives into multiple sounds from the heavy trap beat found on “How I Move” featuring Lil Baby and the bouncy yet soulful “Take a Lil’ Time” but the album as a whole is cohesive and manages to keep the vibe through its 43-minute run time.
“Love for Guala is multidimensional and it reaches different points. It’s not just going down one lane,” he explains. “It means I’m finally hitting the versatile points that I said I would awhile back as opposed to staying in that one trap sound I came up with.”
Compared to his previous EP The Guala Way, where Dinero takes on a more aggressive sound, this album sounds vastly different. “I wanted to challenge myself and make something different. I was more open to being diverse with the sound because I know I can make more than just that one trap sound,” he reveals boldly when describing his approach. “You’re getting the turn-up vibe but I’m also going to give you me. I’m that conscious dude that really thinks about life and longevity and winning after everything is said and done.”
Flipp Dinero is determined to push his name further into the spotlight with Love for Guala: he has major plans for his future. “I see myself being bigger than I dream I could be. I see myself accomplishing things I never thought I’d accomplish,” he proudly says. “I don’t know what it is because I see myself winning Grammys, all that. So I don’t know what it is, but I know I’ll be bigger than my dreams could be.”