'Leave Me Alone' Rapper Flipp Dinero On Getting a Drake Co-Sign, Working With DJ Khaled

Flipp Dinero
Jason Goodrich

Flipp Dinero

Flipp Dinero is ready to be a superstar. The 22-year-old is buzzing with excitement from the moment he comes to the phone from his native Brooklyn. He continually sings out the title of his skyrocketing single “Leave Me Alone,” which marks his Hot 100 debut, and lets out a giddy laugh throughout the call.

He has every reason to be in good spirits. Since the March release of “Leave Me Alone,” he was cited by Drake as an influence for Scorpion, Fat Joe gave him a “super thumbs up” and Tony Lanez added him as an opener on his Memories Don’t Die Tour.

Since signing to DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music, Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records on Aug. 28, he's looking to make an even bigger splash in 2019. Even as “Leave Me Alone” continues to climb the Hot 100, hitting a No. 53 peak last week, he insists he has plenty of new music on the way.

Below, Dinero opens up about the track’s influence within the athlete community, how the song’s real-life subject reacted to the lyrics and more.

What was your initial reaction when you saw “Leave Me Alone” on the Hot 100?

I almost passed out. I was beyond baffled. I told my mother, I told my father, I told all my family members. I prayed. I was happy. Tears of joy, honestly.

Why do you think this is your breakout song?

The topic is just so relatable. It came from the soul when I made it. I actually put my emotions into it, as far as it goes with the melody and lyrics. Shout out [to] Drake because Drake even promoting the track. Cedric the Entertainer, Russell Wilson, Justina Valentine, Kim Kardashian, Travis Scott -- we could go on and on. It just has been nothing but blessings with this song. But you know what the beauty of it all is? “Leave Me Alone” taking off has shed light on all my previous songs, and [now] all my songs are getting the same response.

You show love to fellow Haitian Kodak Black on the song. Have you heard from him?

I haven’t heard from Kodak, but shout out to Kodak. He’s a big Haitian influence in America. He represents his culture just as much as I represent my culture. Just for both of us to be Haitian is a blessing. And for both of us to be Haitian and succeeding is a blessing within itself. I definitely want to link up with him soon. We’d make some fire.

How does all of the recognition from your peers feel and how does it influence your coming music?

A lot of artists, when they get co-signed, tend to get big-headed. They forget the fact that they still have to work. Those co-signs gave me energy to just continue to work. To continue to make music. To continue to write. I took the co-sign like, “Okay, it’s a great compliment, and that means I have a gem within me. I have something within me that’s important.” So, I have to take heed of this. I have to take hold of it.

A viral video of Giants player Odell Beckham Jr. dancing to “Leave Me Alone” helped the song blow up. Why do you think the song took off in the athlete community?

That field is so stressful, so you have so many people bothering you. You just want everyone to leave you alone. All the athletes are like, “[Grunts] Coach is on my ass today. Leave me alone.” You’ve got that annoying ass shortie or that annoying ass guy that’s texting you all the time. And you’re just like, “[sings] leave me alone.” It’s just so relatable.

You’ve said that the song’s subject would definitely know it’s about her if she heard it. Have you heard from her since it blew up?

Of course. She’s like, “Why are you dissing me?” I’m like, “What do you mean? I’m not dissing you. It’s the truth.” [But] she loves it. It’s a vibe. It’s a funny song, but it’s an emotional song. It’s so real, and she knows it’s real, too, so she had to respect it. I really did tell her to leave me alone.

How has being on DJ Khaled’s label opened up doors for you?

I’m just so happy that I have the opportunity to work with [him] because that’s someone I’ve idolized my whole life. He’s a mogul, he’s an entrepreneur. He’s positive. He’s loving.

He has instilled positivity in me. I can’t feel down anymore. I can’t bash myself. I can’t bash others. I can’t be around negative energy. My whole mentality has changed. I want to achieve. I want success [and] positivity for everyone. I want to win. That’s my main objective. To make more music that people love [and] can relate to. To be a respectable artist as far as it goes with how I converse and how I treat other artists and other people.

He was hyping up the crowd at your BET Hip-Hop Awards performance this year.

It was so crazy that he did that. I had to run offstage and give him a hug. Like, come here. Give me a hug. That’s my big brother. He shows me love. It’s nothing but love with us. We the best.

In your last Billboard interview, you mentioned a coming mixtape. You’ve been dropping singles, but is there a timeline for a full project right now?

We don’t have an exact date right now, but it’s finished and it’s ready to go. Literally, I have a tape wrapped up, ready to go. I’m just deciphering, choosing. Making sure I pick the right songs. A lot of unreleased with Khaled, a lot of unreleased with [Cinematic Music Group President Jonny] Shipes, a lot of unreleased just on my own. A lot of collabs, too. You’d be surprised.

Any collaborations that you can reveal?

Shhhhh. Top secret. Everything is top secret. No brainer, no brainer, no brainer.

Where do you go from here?

I want to do a lot of things for the community. I want to be able to set a foundation built off of humility. For people like who are in my position now, ten years later when I’m succeeding and when I have what I want, what I dreamed of, the people who are in my position now could have a foundation that is beneficial to them. I want to be a helping hand, as opposed to just an artist who’s in the game who just has a lot of money. It’s about giving and sharing and just making sure I share positive vibes. That’s what I’m about. Guala gang.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of Billboard.