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Flo Rida: Ridin' high on 'Low'

20

March

Florida

Not only is Flo Rida a record-setting R&B superstar -- his single Right Round destroyed the record for single-week digital downloads, with 636,000 -- his music gets Tom Cruise dancing. Well, in Tropic Thunder, at least.

Here in Florida, Flo Rida isn't alone among rising hip-hop greats. T-Pain (Tallahassee), Plies (Ft. Myers/Tampa) and 2 Pistols (Tarpon Springs) have become household names in recent years. Let it never be said that a world-class music superstar can't come from the Sunshine State.  

Tbt*'s Dalia Colon chatted with Flo Rida recently, and recorded the conversation for posterity. Click here to listen to the interview in our music player (scroll down to track 11). And keep reading for the full story on Flo Rida's rise from Carol City wannabe to pop-charts ubiquity -- and on why he woudln't hesitate to work with Chris Brown again...

*****

Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the furrr...

Sorry, Low will probably be stuck in your head for days now. But from Flo Rida’s standpoint, it’s pure genius.

Isn’t that what every local musician wants? To have a single that tops Billboard’s Hot 100 for 2008, is featured in movies and TV shows and gets played in clubs around the world?

Flo Rida — that’s Tramar Dillard if you’re his mom or a friend from back in the Carol City projects — knows how to birth hit after ubiquitous hit. Following his Low collab with hip-hop’s Midas, T-Pain, Flo Rida spit out dance gems Elevator, In the Ayer and Roll.

Still riding high on the success of his debut album, Mail on Sunday, the 29-year-old will release his sophomore CD, R.O.O.T.S. (Route of Overcoming the Struggle), on April 7. Flo’s already making waves with the first single, Right Round, a remake of Dead or Alive’s 1985 You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) on which smoochie songstress Katy Perry sings the hook. Other big-name cameos include Nelly Furtado, Ne-Yo, Akon and Wyclef Jean. But one song you won’t find on the CD is Flo’s duet with embattled star Chris Brown, Sweat.

From his tour bus in Alabama, Flo Rida called tbt* to explain why the Brown collab was dropped (we have a theory), how he chose his stage name and the opportunity many aspiring rappers are missing.

What are the pros and cons of having a stage name that’s where you’re from?

I would say the pros would be definitely the fact that I get the advantage that when someone sees the name Florida, they think Flo Rida, and vice versa. But a lot of times people have been like, ‚ÄúWhy would you name yourself Florida?‚Äù And I‚Äôll be like, ‚ÄúNo, it‚Äôs Flo Rida.‚Äù I‚Äôll break it down to them: I broke ‚ÄúFlorida‚Äù in half. The ‚ÄúFlo‚Äù represents my melodic style, and the ‚ÄúRida‚Äù represents my gift to slow up and speed down  my rhyme pattern.

If you’re like me, you hear 'Low' about 10 times a day. Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever heard your own song?

The craziest place is probably going to the bathroom stall. This guy next to me, his phone rings, but he don’t even know it’s me standing next to him. (laughs)

And you were his ringtone. Was that awkward?

Very awkward.

Let’s talk about your collab with Chris Brown, 'Sweat.' Would you ever work with him again?

Most definitely. A lot of people hit me up with the question: Sweat was supposed to be on my album, and was it because of Chris Brown ‚Äî the Rihanna situation? It definitely didn‚Äôt have anything to do with that. I had to meet a deadline as far as turning in my album. It was still some business things we didn‚Äôt work out. At the same time, it was more records that didn‚Äôt make the album, as well.  So this was a situation prior to that happening, to clear that up. (laughs)

So you would work with him again.

Yeah, of course. He’s very talented. When I met him, he was a great dude.

How important is it for aspiring rappers to look outside the world of rap, R&B and hip-hop?

A lot of times here in the States, when it comes to hip-hop, we probably really don’t try to take advantage of the international exposure. ... Every time you have a hot record in each country, that’s a whole other life.

Thanks for letting us chat with you, Flo — or should we call you Mr. Rida?

Whatever’s comfortable, baby.

-- Story by Dalia Colon, photo by Getty Images.

[Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 6:00am]

    

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