Flo Rida

Date of Interview: 10/27/2010

Time and time again, Flo Rida has proven that he has “the Midas touch.” In spite of the music industry’s ballyhooed downward spiral, Flo has sold more than 10 million digital copies of his popular club anthems over the past three years. For this reason, he has firmly supplanted himself as the undisputed “King of the Club.”

From “Low” to “Right Round,” in addition to a string of guest appearances, Tramar “Flo Rida” Dillard has crafted a sonic style that is immediately recognizable, memorable and unique. And with the release of his third studio album (on November 30, 2010), he is resolute in his reminder to the world: “there is Only One Flo.”

Upon the release of the album’s lead single, “Club Can’t Handle Me,” Flo Rida managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry – reflecting on his formative years in Las Vegas, the importance of “connecting” with fans, and his professional relationship with Walt Disney Studios.

Clayton Perry: Although you were born-and-raised in Florida, you also spent a great deal of time in Vegas, as well. In what ways have those two regions influenced and affected the direction of your career?

Flo Rida: Living in Vegas has definitely exposed me to an international audience because people around the world travel to Vegas and party in Vegas. It definitely inspired the type of music I do. Miami has a great party environment, as well. Just being in those two places definitely influenced me and helped me come up with songs about clubbing and everything.

Clayton Perry: During your undergraduate years at the University of Nevada, you studied international business. Considering all the things that you have accomplished thus far, what is one key business rule that you apply every time you release a new project?

Flo Rida: When I’m performing, I make sure that I do my best to connect with the fans. When it comes down to promoting yourself, you definitely want to do that. When I was going to school for international business, I never even thought that I would be at a point where I would be considered an international artist. And now, I use a lot of the skills that I gained before I dropped out. I always make sure I’m handling my merchandising, and really promoting myself, and connecting with fans during my travels around the world. It’s crazy for me to say that I’ve been in almost every country around the world!

Clayton Perry: As you’ve traveled around the world, what have you learned about the universal nature of music?

Flo Rida: When it comes to my style, I’m a big fan of OutKast and I’m always trying different things, whether it’s the melodies or the rhyme patterns. Most of the people outside of the country understand the music because of the different melodies I use. So I always try to apply the more melodic style to my music as well as still keep my core audience where I started from. Whenever I have a record that gets a lot of exposure around the world, I take note of the locations where it becomes #1.

Clayton Perry: When I think of Florida, I definitely think of a lot of the big acts that have come out of the area – like 2 Live Crew, Trick Daddy and Trina. Obviously, these artists have opened doors for you, but what doors do you think you have opened for the artists coming behind you?

Flo Rida: I definitely have to pay my respects to 2 Live Crew. They were known around the world, which was definitely rare back then. And when I think about Trick Daddy and Trina, and younger artists like Rick Ross and Pitbull, they have definitely created a space where anyone who comes out of Florida can be known around the world. And me, I’ve got to open that door wider, because I’m a part of that same group now. My eyes are set on maintaining an international audience, so I think I am helping push what we do to a higher level on the international level.

Clayton Perry: Even though you’ve busted down a lot of doors, are there any particular obstacles that you still have to overcome?

Flo Rida: There is still a lot of work left to do. And right now, I have two new acts that I am trying to break: Brianna, a female hip-hop artist, and Get Fresh, an R&B group. I definitely want to pave the way for them, so they will be able to enjoy careers the way I enjoy mine. I’m definitely proud of the different accolades. Having almost every album be in the Guinness Book of World Records, and just having the chance to go around the world, that’s still humbling.

Clayton Perry: It is obvious and apparent that you have “the Midas touch,” especially when it comes to new emerging talent. It is so easy to forget that the first time I was introduced to Kesha was on “Right Round.” In addition, my first to Wynter Gordon was on “Sugar.” Talk to me about the relationships that you have developed with them.

Flo Rida: Both of them are definitely great singers – and I just love being around talent because I think it rubs off. They have a great passion for music, and I love to be in the same room with people who have the same passion as me. There is just a certain aura that you sense in just working with them. Doing a record with somebody who doesn’t have a record out, and then seeing it turn into a big success was definitely a blessing for the both of us. I just definitely wish them the best.

Clayton Perry: Although there is no such thing as an “overnight success,” the massive success of “Low” definitely made you a household name in record time. Why do you think the stars aligned with that particular song?

Flo Rida: It was a fun record, and at the same time, it just reminded me of the old Miami-based music, just growing up. I think that was definitely why it connected so well, because I was very familiar with that sound, and so were the listeners. For the most part, it is one of those rare songs that the kids loved, and even the grown-ups. But going back to my earlier point, when recording that record, I made sure that I attached myself to being the melody for that record versus just really focusing on the rap. I just wanted to have fun with that record.

Clayton Perry: As the undisputed “King of the Club,” why do you think your music and persona registers with countless millions? What do you think makes Flo Rida stand out above the rest?

Flo Rida: Well, I definitely do my homework. I started just living in Vegas. I lived in California for like four years with DeVante of Jodeci. So he’s a guy who is very musical and I always surround myself around people who are very musically inclined. I am always studying. If I don’t have the music with me, I go on the Internet, look at YouTube footage. I don’t care if it’s of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, or Jimi Hendrix. The souls of these artists influenced me. So I try to pour all of my energy – all of my heart and soul into my music. And that’s what creates the magic. If you want that success, you have to sacrifice other things and give music 100 percent of your time.

Clayton Perry: When you speak about that magic, what do you think makes the perfect song?

Flo Rida: The spur of the moment. The production. And you’re just feeling great that day. No writer’s block and you’re just getting in there.

Clayton Perry: Like your most-recent single, “Club Can’t Handle Me,” “Low” was featured on a soundtrack – Step Up 2: The Streets – as well as one of your albums – Mail on Sunday. Do you ever feel uneasy about having your work featured on a soundtrack before the official release of a proper album?

Flo Rida: Well, that’s hard for me to say, because – starting out – I was successful in doing that. I have a great relationship with Disney and I just want that build, because it feels good to go to a movie and hear your song playing in the background! [laughing]

Clayton Perry: How did that relationship develop?

Flo Rida: Early on, they got in touch with my A&R, because they needed a song for Step Up 2: The Streets. “Low” was very big at the time, and we just worked it out from there. And then as far as me doing it again, I did the lead single for the movie G-Force. It was called “Jump.” And when I was putting out my album, they were putting out a movie, Step Up 3D, and they asked if I had a record. We went in the studio and let them hear some of the records, and [“Club Can’t Handle Me”] was the record they liked. So I have a great relationship with them. They’re not just people who want to pick a song. They’re really musically inclined, as well. And it’s a lot more promotion, too.

Clayton Perry: When you look at your résumé, and see digital singles sales that exceed ten million, how does that affect your approach to the traditional business model?

Flo Rida: For the most part, it’s just in a whole other level, now. When you’re about to release a song to the world, you just make sure everything is lined up. After having success with it, you might want to look and see if there is a movie coming out and if you can get a single in there, as well as make sure that you’re ready for iTunes, and everything like that, because that’s where most of the sales are coming from. Nowadays, you just want to make sure everything is lined up.

Clayton Perry: Having attained so much success with your singles, why bother with an album?

Flo Rida: One thing you’ve got to realize is that if people are going to buy these singles, why not create an album that you feel comfortable with, that still has that same feeling of an album but could be possibly singles? So that’s my focus every time that I’m creating an album, because for one thing, you can say a single is a hot record. Most of the time that’s the record that people might think is the hottest record, so make sure the whole album is hot, and therefore you can possibly put out every record as a single.

Clayton Perry: Often times, when people have discussions about ground-breaking and chart-topping artists, they tend to overlook you, even though you have one of the best sales records in the game. Do you ever feel underappreciated?

Flo Rida: I think it’s because they’ve never seen the whole take on me being able to trot around the world. Most of these people haven’t even been around the world, so they really don’t do their homework and they don’t know these type things. There’s not too many people in my lane. It’s like I created my own lane. A lot of times, even with them making their own “best of” or “top ten” lists, they don’t get it right. Some of the people that they put in the top ten are not as good as the ones that I think should be in the top ten. So if they can’t get it right, how do I expect them to even know what’s going on in my world? I mean, a lot of times I don’t even have time to focus on that, because I’m traveling doing two and three shows a day. I’m in places like Dubai, Africa, all over the world. So it’s just a blessing, and I look at it and really laugh.

Clayton Perry: Since there are relatively few artists that are operating within your lane, then what do you think has been your greatest contribution to the music game?

Flo Rida: The fact that a lot of times when an artist comes out, they’re always looking for the next artist. And me, I look forward to having some longevity in this. Everybody loves to party. At the same time, I’m versatile where I can still put out my mixtapes and do all of that, still accumulate fans around the world. A lot of times when people go get records deals, I hear them say, “I’m looking for the next Flo Rida. I need that Flo Rida stuff.” They won’t say, like with hip-hop or whatever, they say “That’s Flo Rida stuff.” I think years from now people will realize that I definitely created my own lane – without recognizing it at the time.

Clayton Perry: As a journalist, sometimes it is easy to focus on what you’re doing in the business, but I really want you to talk about your charity, Big Dreams for Kids. How did it start? And how do you want to see it grow and develop in the future?

Flo Rida: Basically growing up in my projects and everything, I was influenced by different people. There was this one church called Jesus People Ministries, and they would come out, bring different celebrities out and have them speak to the kids. They never let the kids forget about putting God first, but they tell them to dream big; that they made it and you could possibly do it because these people have come from places similar to where we grew up. Less fortunate, single parent homes and those kinds of situations. That has always stayed with me. And now that I’m at the point where I’m successful, I thought: “Hey, I want to go back to my projects and talk to the kids.” So I went there and spoke to the kids. I had big carnival rides out there. Cotton candy. Game where the kids can win prizes. And every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, and on different holidays, I come out and I support the kids in the community. I have different artists come out and perform as well as speak to the kids, and we just have an extravaganza and just instill in them to continue to dream big. You know, the sky is the limit. And that’s the greatest thing, I think, about my music: the fact that I get to travel around the world and do shows. But sometimes, I’m performing right next to the slums. So it’s really important for me to go out and put a smile on their face with more that just my music. I know I receive a lot, performing and things like that, but to give is better than to receive. To me, that’s the ultimate feeling.

For more information on Flo Rida, visit his official website: http://www.officialflo.com/









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