Flo Rida serves his listeners best in smaller increments
April 9, 2009
The top of the Billboard chart caters to an exclusive clientele, and if the last three years are any indication of a trend, we can expect an annual rocket to the No. 1 spot by rapper Flo Rida, who has carved his own niche as ringtone rap poet laureate.
On March 31, just in time for my birthday, he dropped his sophomore record “R.O.O.T.S.,” (acronym for Route of Overcoming the Struggle) an incredibly infectious 14-track effort that Flo uses as a vehicle to describe (utilizing every cliché imaginable) how awesome his party life is.
Currently ruling the airwaves is the terribly catchy, world-dominating single “Right Round,” which has spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and has already shattered the single week download record.
An adventurous and creative sampling of ‘80s staple “You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)” provides the backbone for this upbeat and infectious mix of bass-saturated swagger and standard pop-rap boasts.
It is truly a masterpiece as singles go.
Needless to say, Flo Rida (Tramar Dillard) will never be mistaken for a top-notch (or even above average) wordsmith, but it doesn’t matter, because no one listens to his lyrics anyway.
The harmonious and sonically appealing production, well-chosen samples and star-studded guests veil the fact that Dillard blitzes through his elementary rhymes with a silky flow and roadrunner speed.
Fortunately, the lyrical pace often meshes with the backbeat almost perfectly, creating a synth-infused, energized, party atmosphere.
The song “Jump,” featuring a barely-recognizable Nelly Furtado, works out in an interesting way and stays true to the time-tested algorithm of deep vibrating bass and a chanting, repetitive electronica chorus combined with Dillard’s usual bragging about how balla he is.
“You ain’t scared of heights when you sippin’ on Goose,” he states matter-of-factly to listeners, dismissing any notion of a global recession.
While Akon’s familiar soulful howls are a welcome addition to “Available,” the ubiquitous motif of seeking out attractive women already begins to wear extremely thin around the record’s halfway mark.
Unfortunately, all of the tracks that attempt to inject real human emotions into this Auto-Tune-happy, hook-fest feel flat and uninspired (fornicating with unnamed girls doesn’t count).
A Wyclef Jean guest spot is largely wasted on the laughably corny “Rewind,” on which a nice background melody and clockwork tempo are negated by verses such as “I try sticking to the rivers that I’m used to / But these tears got me searching for an inner tube.”
“R.O.O.T.S.,” in its entirety, never ceases to look, feel and sound like anything more than a guilty pleasure. The content is pretty much pure candy—junk food for the ears. Too many replays may leave the listener feeling a little empty and nauseous, but it can be absolutely fulfilling in the short-term, given the right moment, setting and level of inebriation.
If the anthems of Flo Rida manage to have an addicting effect through cell phone speakers and iPod headphones, then they probably have the effect of crack cocaine when unleashed in its full electro-heavy extravagance on drunken club-goers on the dance floor.
Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.