You’d be hard pressed to find a more positive presence than Miami rapper Flo Rida. The guy has an unshakably bright outlook and faith in himself. He’s part entertainer, part motivational speaker, part athlete and part Wedding MC. During his hour-long performance in front of the small, exclusive crowd at Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile in Chicago, he regularly paused the show to invite fans onstage to rap, sing and dance along with him. Ladies got roses, dudes were given gold chains, and those up front received shots of Patron tequila straight from the bottle. His ethos is simple: Work hard, create an inclusive environment and keep it upbeat. “I’m embracing what’s in front of me and am always trying to make it great,” he told me in an interview after the gig. “You just want to give your all.”
You really can’t argue with that formula. Across the last decade, few rappers have attained the kind of success on commercial radio that he’s enjoyed. Eleven of his singles have cracked into Billboard’s top-ten since he first rose to prominence around 2007, rapping about girls in “apple bottom jeans” and “boots with the fur.” Three of them, “Low,” “Right Round,” and “Whistle” have gone to No. 1. As a lead artist, that’s the same amount as Kanye West and two more than both Drake and Jay Z.
His appeal isn’t hard to miss. The hooks and choruses to most of his songs are almost annoyingly catchy, and the EDM beats he uses to fuel his music are incredibly danceable. The content of his rhymes never strays too far from subjects like love, sex, fun and partying. Who doesn’t appreciate all of that? As the character Darius explained when a joke was made at Flo Rida’s expense on the FX show Atlanta: “Moms need to enjoy rap, too.”
Flo Rida himself wouldn’t take such an observation as an insult. “It’s overwhelming to me when I go to a show and there’s grandkids to grandmas,” he said. “I know that’s priceless. A lot of artists don’t have that so, I’m willing to embrace that and be an inspiration and share positive vibes.” He remains a man for all the people.
What’s going on? How’s life?
Oh, excellent. Always interesting. Just watching social media, watching the fans and how it continues to grow as I continue to expand my career. Just seeing the love that I get from day one to now, it definitely gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s a dream come true.
How many platinum records do you actually have?
Right off the top, I don’t know. I know I’ve sold quite a bit of records thanks to the fans and the support I get from them.
Where do you keep them all?
I keep them everywhere. In my office, at my mom’s house, at my manager’s house. Everywhere.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the release your breakthrough single “Low,” can you reflect on what it was like to experience that first rush of fame in such a major way. 10 weeks at No. 1 is pretty incredible.
I mean, everything happened gradually prior to me having my first record out. I was definitely one of those guys who was a fan of hip-hop locally [in Miami] from 2 Live Crew to Poison Clan to Trick Daddy, Trina, Rick Ross who co-signed me; DJ Khaled. It wasn’t something that happened overnight so I was able to handle it humbly and I think that’s why I’m still around. Making sure that when it comes to radio or anybody, I make them understand with my actions, not just my talk, that I really appreciate them. As far as ten years, I just take my hat off to my team for believing in me and always putting in as much effort as myself. There’s definitely a sacrifice of sleep. When it comes down to the fans, as I said tonight while I performed, it’s more like family, because a lot of my fans have grown with me since ten years ago and still support me. I look forward to having a very long career.
Speaking of the number ten, you’re currently working on your next album The Perfect 10. How’s that coming along?
Well, it differentiates as far as the name. I don’t think we’re gonna call it The Perfect 10. Maybe some of my fans out there can help me come up with a name for it, but this is a project that’s very special to me. It being ten years, I definitely want to let my fans get a chance to embrace some greatness when I put this album out. I’m excited about all the records I’ve recorded. I recorded from Miami to L.A. with some of the biggest producers. There’s a couple surprise features too.
On the production end, who’ve you been working with?
I got the chance to work with Max Martin. We’ve had a couple of hits lately and I look forward to working with him again. I’ve been working with Frank E, who is one of those guys I’ve been working with since the beginning of my career. It’s just been great. I’m very passionate about it and like I always tell people, when you’re passionate about things, it doesn’t feel like a job.
From a commercial standpoint, you’ve obviously been very successful, but do you feel underrated at all in a critical capacity?
Not at all, because I know what comes with time, what comes with hard work, what comes with knowing yourself. I always tell people, my artists and other people, if you believe the good, you have to believe the bad. How much do you believe in yourself? I’m inspired by myself and the things I’ve accomplished. For example, I remember when I couldn’t lift 50 pounds. That was a process that, you know, the people around me or on social media, anybody, couldn’t help me with. That was just something that I took the initiative to say, “You know what, I’m gonna do a couple more pushups here and there.” And as I did that, I got stronger, bigger, faster. When you’re a loving person and you love what you do, that’s all you know.
When you’re at the gym, who do you listen to? What’s on your workout playlist?
You know what? I love listening to Michael Jackson. The up-tempo records definitely get me going.
Which ones in particular?
I Just put on Off The Wall and ride out.
You’ve collaborated with so many different people across so many different genres, from Gucci Mane to Lady Gaga and dozens more in between. Is there anyone left out there that you’d like to hit the studio with that you haven’t had the chance to work alongside yet?
I’m always looking to be innovative. Looking for that new person that is as passionate as I am about the music. First and foremost, hats off to all the artists that I’ve worked with going back to my first album, from Lil Wayne to T-Pain and all the DJs like DJ Montay who did the “Low” record. Working with Will.i.am, working with Timbaland, Birdman, the list goes on.
You mentioned T-Pain. You think you might link up and do something again here in the near future?
Of course. That’s my partner man. Out of all the people I deal with as far as the music and everything, I speak with him time and time again. He comes out and supports my events and things like that. I really, really appreciate it.
How about Kesha? I don’t know if you have any comment about her ongoing legal situation.
Much love to Kesha. It was definitely amazing to have worked with her and to get such a huge record [“Right Round”] and to just see the birth of her career. Like I said before, I’m willing to work with anybody that’s passionate about what I’m passionate about.
Have you kept in contact with her at all?
I haven’t. I mean, I remember the first time I did the record with her and everything, but I haven’t kept in contact with her, but it’s all love.
What’s next for Flo Rida, what have you got cooking at the moment?
Just trying to embrace everything that goes along with being successful in the music. I have my own workout program FLO FIT. I mean, you saw that onstage tonight! Celsius healthy energy drink. Loud speakers. Headphones. Lalpina Water. The list goes on.
Living the mogul life.
Yeah definitely. And as far as the music goes, I want to continue to support artists that’s trying to get on. I have an artist right now Baby Soulja whose doing great things. Another artist I have, Nikki Vianna, she’s doing amazing. I look forward to dropping her record. I always look forward to watching the smiles of those who are intrigued by what I’m intrigued by, which is music that touches the world.