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Flo Rida: How To Flow

flo-rida

Sometimes, a rapper’s induction into the mainstream appears so fated that people mistake it as effortless.  After all, Carol City native Flo Rida had the support of heavyweights such as Rick Ross and the music of sought-after production duo The Runners to help deliver him into the national limelight.  And for his record “Low”, the #1 downloaded single on iTunes for three consecutive weeks, a T-Pain assist didn’t hurt either.  But scratch beneath the glossy surface of major label promotions and all-star entourages, and you will discover that Flo Rida has spent years differentiating his craft and devotedly promoting his music to anyone who would listen.  A drifter whose travels have been as widespread as his musical influences, the Florida rapper was right to return home at the moment his state was enjoying its Hip-Hop heyday.  With local powerhouse Poe Boy Entertainment behind him, it wasn’t long before Flo-Rida’s melodious flow, viral hooks, and universally appealing subject matter caught Atlantic’s eye.  Both humbled and animated by his achievements, Flo Rida chronicles the less glamorous episodes of his path to fame as he prepares for the February drop of his debut album, Mail On Sunday. AllHipHop.com: You’ve been winning on a lot of fronts lately, how does the sudden success feel?Flo Rida: I mean you know it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I feel like definitely all the things that I’ve been doing behind the scenes haven’t gone unnoticed. Having faith and putting God first is definitely paying off. I didn’t know it would be to this extent, but I’m definitely enjoying the successAllHipHop.com: A lot of people who are just getting to know you may feel that success came easy because of your high-level associations, so do you want to speak on how long you’ve been in the game grinding?Flo Rida: I’ve been doing this for like 12 years. I could give you some situations where I was living from sister to sister house and this one time I just got fed up. I was like, “Y’all don’t believe in me” and I was venting and I said “You know what? That’s it, I’m leaving,” and I left the house, and I walked 30 miles to a Nelly concert. I had blisters on my feet and all kinds of things and when I got there it was cancelled. I was like “Aww man, I was gonna take this demo to them and n****s gonna love it,” and [now] to have this Apple Bottoms song, this “Low” record is so crazy. And one time I went [to] Cali, I got on the Greyhound with just $200, I got there and had to stay on the streets for a couple of days.  I knew I could call my family at the end of the day and they would be there for me, but I took it upon myself to try to try to pay my own way. When I was out there, I went to Death Row Records, I went to Capitol Records, I went to The Beverly Center because I thought different celebrities would be there. I had a duffel bag that I put on top of the bus bench and when I came back out it was gone, man. I came back there and they said “You caused a bomb threat!” I was like “Wow,” I had to walk through Beverly Hills, finally I got my bag. That’s just some of the things I’ve done—sacrificing, giving my money to lawyers and they aren’t making anything happen, it hasn’t been no easy road.AllHipHop.com: What was it like touring with 2 Live Crew as a teenager?Flo Rida: It was a situation where I opened up with Scarface, me and my group [The Groundhoggz]. They needed someone who had a different type of flow and that could almost match one of the guy’s voices and do the hyping, and they contacted me and asked me to go to Hawaii. So I was like “I can’t turn that down,” I went to Hawaii and it started from there. It was a great thing, it’s kind of like now performing the “Low” record is almost like the 2 Live Crew thing, these girls are taking their clothes off on stage, I mean they wildin’.AllHipHop.com: You’re still together with the Groundhoggz crew, right?Flo Rida: Yes, they just in the lab right now making sure they come up with hit records for the most part and grinding. And we paying attention to other groups out there, trying to be the best we can be.  All of us decided we would still be a group, but if we have connects we gonna use ‘em from a solo standpoint as well, and whoever break out first, it’s all good, we’ll help each other. AllHipHop.com: You spent three years out in Cali and did some work with DeVante [Jodeci], why do you think things didn’t click out there and what made you return to Florida?Flo Rida: When I went out there, I didn’t have the proper demo or nothing like that.  I was doing it spur of the moment to show ‘em what I got.  It just wasn’t the right time. Things happen when you’re more knowledgeable about everything, and I’m glad it didn’t happen then.  I was out in Cali for three years working with DeVante and my manager, I used to work a 9-to-5 with him, and I always saved up money to go to the studio. And I would come back and let him hear the demos, and his brother’s the CEO of Poe Boy [Elric “E-Class” Prince]. I’ve known him for a long time. So I didn’t want to go back home, I wanted to come home when I had made it and I could help my family. But different A&Rs was in the building when Rick Ross was popping off, and they heard my demos and wanted to put a face to the music. I came home just for a visit and ended up getting a record deal with Atlantic in the next three, four months.AllHipHop.com: How much of a role did Poe Boy and Rick Ross play in advancing your career?Flo Rida: They’ve been a friend to me all throughout, from the struggle and everything, they’ve been on about me.  So it’s more family oriented, and I feel like with doing anything at least you have that bond where people care about you and every creative aspect is taken care of. So they definitely played a major part in what’s going on right now with me.  Me and Ross, we did records prior to both of our successes. He once told me “Flo, man, keep writing, man, I’ma make sure you get on,” and that was before he even got his deal. It’s crazy how he played a major part in me getting signed, and we part of the same family and everything. AllHipHop.com: What was it like getting beats from some of the hottest production teams of the day, such as Cool & Dre and the Runners, when you were still on the come up?Flo Rida: To have that name behind you, it’s a great feeling. But at the same time, I feel like my creativity is just as important as the production. In the past people would just hear the lyrics to my songs and be like “Wow,” a lot of times early on I had tracks that wasn’t really that hot, but it stood out because of the lyrics. But it’s still a great thing to have those well-known named producers.AllHipHop.com: How much of a hand do you have in the business decisions that are made around your career?Flo Rida: With everything that I do…Poe Boy, they the best promoters in the game. Even when I came and got my record deal, Lyor was telling E-Class, “Man, you stand out with your promotions.” And even early on when I was just grinding by myself, I made sure people seen the Groundhoggz logo. We had shirts all over South Beach, handing out CDs, putting music in the U-Haul, and we would have 50 of us walking down the street on Memorial Day weekend just promoting. That’s a big part of the game early on, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to work with Poe Boy because they make sure their artists are seen as well as heard.Allhiphop.com: What’s next in terms of promotion for the Mail On Sunday album?Flo-Rida: It’s going to be something real big and crazy. Right now I know E Class is probably thinking of the best promotional item to come up with, but we got these eight foot boards that we use. I mean Ross used them early when his “Hustlin’” record was popping, now everyone’s trying to duplicate it but they not doing a good job cause they be looking like small boards. We put out another mixtape, I have five mixtapes out to date, and things of that nature.AllHipHop.com: Several months back, I saw you perform the “Birthday” song in New York. I don’t think a lot of people there knew that record, but right away it was as if it was an anthem.Flo Rida: That made me want to go into different markets with that record. Like “Wow, they showing us all this love and they ain’t even heard this song before!” At the same time, when you in the club, the production has to be right. You can’t go in there thinking the lyrics is going to do it, cause they can’t even hear you on the mic. AllHipHop.com: Was the song that originally attracted the interest of Atlantic the “Birthday” song?Flo Rida: The “Birthday” song and the “Jealous” song.  They was just like “This dude is doing things out of the norm.” There’s so many people trying to rap and trying to get signed. I knew I had to step out and observe everything and come up with something very clever. So every time, I try to focus on my hooks before I even focus on my verses. I may focus on my hooks for a week trying to perfect it because I know that’s just the theme of the book.AllHipHop.com: You’re flow is sometimes more rapid-fire then that of your average Southern artist.  Did you make a conscious effort to differentiate yourself? Flo Rida: Most definitely, just being able to go live in Vegas for the years I lived there, and living in California, and venturing out to different places made me know that in order to go out and please these people, I had to be on a more universal level than a local level. I was a dude who always paid attention to Jimi Hendrix, you know I got the tats on my arm.  My step brother used to listen to Otis Redding and Jimi and Marvin Gaye. I’m a big fan of Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Biggie, Tupac, I did my homework on all these guys. In order to be the best you gotta study the best, so I did my homework.AllHipHop.com: Your MySpace page fatures some videos of knock-offs of “Low” that are pretty funny, is it crazy to see that kind of crossover mania?FloRida: Oh yeah, we just put it out there just to show love to the different people. They come from YouTube footage, or my record company catching people, or people sending in their videos.  Man that is crazy, we have a couple of videos on there but it’s way more. Just to see babies moving to it is crazy, and then almost 50 year olds! I was doing a radio interview a couple months ago and a lady called in she was like “Man, Flo Rida I pulled over with my son in the car and I’m like 45 years old, and I was getting on the side of the expressway.”AllHipHop.com: Did you approach Mail On Sunday with that goal of universal appeal in mind? Flo Rida: I like the universal standpoint, and it’s not just one subject. The first single, “Birthday” which we put out, the kids love it. “I don’t want no cake on my birthday I want my cake everyday,” but it has a strong message behind it. It says you’re never promised tomorrow so take advantage of today. I have songs on there talking about the loss of a sister I had, and even thanking God for having this success. I made sure to have the best party record on there as well as well as the emotional record, and then the Trey Songz record, something for the ladies. I got Plies on there, I got Rick Ross, T Pain, Brisco.AllHipHop.com: Being that you are one of Miami’s newest faces, do you feel a lot of pressure to keep the movement moving?Flo Rida: Not at all, because [of[ all the grinding and hard work, you had the pressures then. The different things like me going out to Cali; that was the pressure. Right now it’s just the blessings, there’s nothing better. So there’s no pressure at all.AllHipHop.com: Do you think Miami’s success has staying power?Flo-Rida: I think so, because y’all just see us: the Ross’s, the Briscos, the Trinas, the Pitbulls, the Trick Daddys, the Plies’s, the T-Pains.   Each individual has their own camp: I have my own camp, Rick Ross has his own camp, the Triple C’s movement. The  Cool ‘N Dre, the whole Epidemic Family, DJ Khaled, even the different radio stations like Power 96 and 99 Jamz, everyone helps each other. You gotta think about all the people behind us, so Miami’s going to be on the map and Florida’s going to be on the map for a long time.

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