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Flo Rida on Chart Domination and His Recipe for Success

'It doesn't make sense not to come up with hot music'

May 5, 2012 1:55 PM ET
Flo Rida performs at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for You Tube

In the five years since dropping his debut album, Mail on Sunday, Flo Rida has amassed seven Top 10 singles, two of which ("Low" and "Right Round") reached Number One. "We've definitely got the recipe down pat," the 32-year-old rapper tells Rolling Stone – and he's not looking to slow down. "Top 5 records each and every time," he says confidently. "I'm out there flying all over the world and getting exhausted. It doesn't make sense not to come up with hot music."

Flo Rida's latest single, "Wild Ones," featuring a sultry guest hook from Australian pop star Sia, currently sits at Number Six on the Hot 100. Before recording the track, the 32-year-old rapper – born Tramar Dillard had never met the singer. "I walked into the studio out in L.A. and my A&R was like 'I need you to check out this artist Sia,'" he recalls. "She was in the studio. They played some of 'Wild Ones' not what you hear now because we changed up a lot of the stuff and immediately when I heard her voice I was just blown away. I fell to the ground like 'Man, we get into the studio, we gonna have a huge record!'"

"Wild Ones" is the second in a string of singles from the rapper’s latest album, Only One Flo (Part 1), that features stellar female accompaniment: "Good Feeling," an Aviici-sampling jam that peaked at Number Three, was anchored by a sped-up sample of Etta James belting the intro to her classic 1962 soul shiner "Something’s Got A Hold On Me." "I would have loved to have a chance to meet her," Flo Rida told Rolling Stone shortly after the iconic singer’s death in January, "just to give her my congrats."

Flo Rida is starting to drum up ideas for his next album, Only One Rida (Part 2) the rapper insists it currently has no solid release date but he’s also been focused on his new role as head of his own record label, International Music Group, which launched last year. "I felt like I wanted to be that bridge to the future of music," he says. "Just to be the avenue for those who work hard and really enjoy making music."

Specifically, the rapper wants artists who are willing to put in the time and effort necessary for success. "You learn new things when you work hard," he says. "Sometimes you don't get no sleep. But that's what I'm looking for in an artist. Those who put their blood, sweat and tears into it but still stay positive and really have that great passion for music."

His most recent signee is 16-year-old Canadian pop singer Tyler Medeiros, who Flo Rida brought on his recent tour with Pitbull. "He passed the test," says Flo. "Those girls go crazy over Tyler over in Canada. He has that star aura."

Not all his recent concerts have gone as planned. This week, Flo Rida, who received a DUI last June, was served with a lawsuit – oddly enough via Facebook – claiming that he failed to appear at a music festival in Australia last October after being paid nearly $57,000. "I didn't even see (the lawsuit) on Facebook, honestly," the rapper says. "None of it's true. People will do anything to get the public's attention."

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Jason Kempin/Getty Images for You Tube
Flo Rida performs at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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