FREE CD! HOSTED BY MIKE SKINNER LITTLE BROTHER AND 9TH WONDER GET BACK! SPOTLIGHT: FLO RIDA
‘88 TO 09: THE WORLD’S ORIGINAL RAP MAGAZINE
RIDA THE STORM
A DECADE DEEP
IS HE THE BEST RAPPER ALIVE?
No free CD? Contact your newsagent
KANO • CHAMILLIONAIRE • DJ Q MITCHELL BROTHERS • COMMON KANYE WEST • KRAYZIE BONES KILLAH PRIEST • NUTTY P • SNIPER MARCH 2009
MARCH 2009 ISSUE 232 £3.75
SPOTLIGHT: FLO RIDA
When your new single goes to Number One all around the world, life becomes a whirlwind blitz of TV shows, interviews, limo rides and paparazzi stake-outs. But for Flo Rida, this is what he spent all those years on building sites dreaming of. He lets HHC in on a few trade secrets, but his diplomatic skills leave RUSSELL MYRIE wondering what he really thinks about Chris Brown, 50 Cent and his Miami mucker, Rick Ross.
SPOTLIGHT: FLO RIDA
SPOTLIGHT: FLO RIDA
veryone wants a piece of you when you’re Number One what people notice is how you handle the attention. And today, sat in the London offices of his record company, waiting to perform his global chart-topper Right Round on a special one-off resurrection of the British TV institution Top of the Pops and so make a small but notable impact in pop culture history, the 29-yearold Floridian Tremar Dillard seems to be revelling in the moment. “It definitely feels good to be Number One,” Flo Rida says with a Cheshire cat grin on his face, clearly lapping up the attention he’s getting - fans wanting an autograph, paparazzi following him as he criss-crosses London in a limo. But he has more right to be pleased than most charttopping celebrities. In a way it’s surprising when rappers who have dropped debut albums in the last few years - the rappers who’ve had to negotiate things like ringtones and downloads - actually get to release a second full-length set. It has nothing to do with their skill level, and everything to do with the way the industry signs ‘em up and churns ‘em out super quick. Hip hop artists from the American South, home of the super-catchy jump-off single, are particularly susceptible to this. J Kwon, who had a massive hit with Tipsy early this decade, is reportedly only now working on his second album, while Dem Franchize Boyz (whose I Think They Like Me was massive) and Young Dro (Shoulder Lean killed it during summer ‘06) are MIAs. Flo Rida has managed to buck this trend, and he shows no signs of letting his commercial grip slip. He was shrewd with the choice of single for that allimportant second go round. Right Round contains a sample, and interpolation, of Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), a worldwide hit in March 1985. “Growing up in my household I had seven sisters running around and I definitely used to listen to all types of music,” he admits. “But it was my A&R who brought this Right Round record to my attention with the sample from Dead or Alive. [For] my second album I wanted to show people I’m well rounded and
take it to the next level. So I went in the studio with the producer Dr Luke and I guess we made history, ‘cos that record is Number One.” Right Round is hitting big a year after Flo’s first single, Low, introduced him. But the inspiration for his new album - it carries the slightly laboured title R.O.O.T.S.: Route of Overcoming the Struggle - lies less in the success of its predecessor than in a trip Flo made to the Motherland. “It’s all good if they think they’re gonna pick up the movie Roots,” he jokes of his album title. “But I was definitely inspired by the fact I had a chance to go to Africa. I did the MTV Awards out in Abuja, Nigeria: I was presented with an award, I gave out an award, I opened and closed the show. And while I was definitely aware of the struggles they go through I have my own struggles, so I took it back to my roots to let people know I’ve been through my own trials and tribulations. But just by keeping the faith I made it through.” It’s not hard to see how Flo Rida was inspired. The awards took place in November last year, so there was a bigger context to consider. “It was around the time that Obama was elected as President,” he recalls, “so I went on stage with my Obama shirt, and I know the fans definitely loved that I came out there supporting Obama. That was big. A very historic moment for me and the fans.” And he grins again. He certainly has earned the right to that winning smile. Flo Rida’s success has been a very long time coming. His first foray into the industry, at just 18, was as hypeman for 2 Live Crew member Fresh Kid Ice. When that fizzled out he moved out to LA to see what hustling his musical talent with former Jodeci member Devante Swing could do for him. The fact that he moved back to Miami after three years of working in Devante’s LA studio tells its own story. Along the way there were jobs in construction, warehouses and the like, so his present level of sustained success must be as much a relief as a dream come true. “It’s amazing,” he agrees. “A lot of the time I do feel like I’m dreaming. I can recall not having a song or enough MARCH 2009
money go to the studio. This is while I’m watching people win Grammys and People’s Choice Awards. I say to all aspiring artists: ‘I came from nothing, and if I can do it anyone can do it.’ I love being able to support myself financially.” Enthused about the album he’s not allowed to let anyone hear yet, Flo tells us to look out for a tune called Jump which features Nelly Furtado, says the second single is to be Sugar, and reveals that will.i.am produced a joint called Available which features Akon. But there’s one song that definitely won’t make it to the finished product. Soon after the drama surrounding Chris Brown and Rihanna became public, news emerged that Sweat, a song Flo Rida had recorded with Brown, was being cut from the album. At first it seemed an immediate reaction to the whole sorry affair. But even if it was, Flo Rida has been, and still is, toeing a party line designed to downplay any controversy. “[People think] it’s because of the situation with Rihanna and Chris Brown but that had nothing to do with it,” he insists. “We had a deadline for my album. As far as us working out the business to make things happen on time, that just didn’t pan out.” The same thing happens when you ask him if he has any comment on his good homey, and Poe Boy labelmate, Rick Ross. The war of words - it’s not really a beef that will cause physical harm - with 50 Cent and whether he had any inkling that Ross used to be a correctional officer will not be touched on directly by Flo Rida. Ross should feel happy to have such a loyal friend. “Both of those guys are very smart individuals,” he says. “I grew up in the same neighbourhood as Rick Ross and he’ll always be my brother. 50 Cent is a cool dude, very talented, he’s made his mark in history as far as rap music goes. And we seen what happened with Biggie and Tupac and we definitely don’t want that to happen again. Love is greater than hate. “ With those kind of diplomatic skills, and of course his flair for the hot, catchy hit single, you can expect Flo Rida to be around - right round - for a very long time.
SPOTLIGHT: FLO RIDA
I CAME FROM NOTHING, AND IF I CAN DO IT ANYONE CAN DO IT