On the eve of the release of his eagerly awaited second album, Flo Rida has already made the most dominant return of any artist, ever. In just a year since his blockbuster debut, MAIL ON SUNDAY, was released, the Sunshine State rapper's new single, "Right Round," has easily made digital sales history. The single shattered the all-time one-week digital single sales record previously held by Flo Rida's own game-changing debut, "Low (feat. T-Pain)." "Right Round" sold over 636,000 downloads in its first week, also making it the highest digital single debut ever. The track also became the fastest million-selling digital song ever, reaching platinum status in just two weeks. Now it's time for the international superstar to let the world know exactly who Flo Rida is with his new album, R.O.O.T.S.
The title R.O.O.T.S. is an acronym for "Route Of Overcoming The Struggle" and was inspired by Flo Rida's 2008 trip to Africa. "I had a chance to go to Africa for the first time for the MTV Africa Music Awards," Flo Rida explains. "It was spiritual. It was amazing to see so many black people. I felt goose bumps… the fact that I'm doing something I love and it took me to this point of visiting the Mother Land. It was an amazing experience."
"At the same time," he continues, "my trip was eye-opening. I was aware of all the struggles that Africans go though, but seeing it in person was something even I could not imagine. It also made me think about my own struggles and the adversity I had to face growing up in the projects. My mother always taught me and my sisters that if you can believe it, you can achieve it. This album gives my fans a chance to know me as a person, prior to my success. With that said, I still have a lot of party joints that complement it all, making R.O.O.T.S. a well-rounded album."
Born Tramar Dillard, 29-year-old Flo Rida was raised alongside seven sisters by his single mother in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Miami – Carol City. Though his mother created a stable and nurturing environment at home, it was a challenge to escape the reality of the streets. Flo Rida's neighborhood was rich with talent but not with money. From a young age, he saw the ills of society first hand.
"Just growing up in the projects everyday, you never know when you have to lay down on the ground because they're shooting or the police swat team is on the roof or something," he explains. "My mother always instilled in us that you could be from the ghetto, but you don't have to be of it. Just about all of my friends have been to jail. But not me. Because when it came down to doing certain things, I decided to be a leader and do more positive things. I chose to stay on the right path regardless."
Music was what helped Flo Rida stay on that straight path. Growing up, he listened to all kinds of music, thanks in large part to his seven sisters, some of whom formed a local gospel group. When Flo Rida was a teenager, he began rapping with a group called the Groundhoggz. The group found local success in the late '90s, selling mixtapes and opening shows for rappers including Scarface. At 18, Flo Rida became the hype man for Fresh Kid Ice from 2 Live Crew and set out on a nationwide tour. It wasn't long before the young rapper caught the attention of DeVante Swing, formerly of the famed R&B group Jodeci. After spending a few years in Los Angeles, working with Swing but unsuccessfully finding a record deal, Flo Rida returned to Miami in late 2006 and almost immediately hooked up with Poe Boy Entertainment and its CEO, Elric "E-Class" Prince. Just months later, Flo Rida inked a deal with Atlantic Records and began working on his debut album, MAIL ON SUNDAY.
Flo Rida initially received national attention when his first monster single, "Low," exploded seemingly out of nowhere in late 2007. The T-Pain-featured cut, now 4x-platinum, was one of the most heavily rotated rap singles of 2008. Flo Rida went on to receive the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Hip-Hop Song" and an MTV Africa Music Award for "MTV Base Request," as well as landing his first two Grammy nominations for "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" and "Best Rap Song." MAIL ON SUNDAY went on to go gold in Australia and Canada and established Flo Rida as one of the most versatile MCs to hold the mic. The worldwide embrace was the culmination of years building his skills and credibility on the underground circuit.
"I was ready for the most part," Flo Rida explains about being thrust into fame with his enormous success. "What I wasn't ready for was traveling around the world, seeing fans go crazy and just love you.
"I grew to handle it," he continues with a grin. "That's something that gives you goose bumps. You see people like Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne, and they're artists people go crazy for. When it's you, it's like 'Wow, I came from nothing and these people really know me?'"
"I was pleased with how MAIL ON SUNDAY came out, but I've grown so much in the past year. I saw the entire world, and it's reflected in my song making. I really think people will be amazed at my versatility on R.O.O.T.S.," he explains.
"Right Round" brilliantly incorporates '80s rock group Dead or Alive's classic, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," and infuses the timeless tune with an unrelenting bass thump under Flo Rida's sharp, dance-extorting rap flow. "I'm talking about the ladies around the world that have my head spinning right round," he describes of the smash hit. "It might be the girl in the club, it might be the girl in the strip club swinging on the pole. I'm talking about spending money. She's got me wanting to spend my last dollar in the club."
The second single from R.O.O.T.S. is "Sugar (feat. Wynter)." "That record has the heavy 808s in it. We used an Eiffel 65 sample. It definitely is gonna get the clubs rockin'. The girls are gonna love this record. Wynter, a new artist off of Atlantic Records, sings the hook and she's saying her lips are like sugar."
The title track is as equally melodic as it is different in subject matter. On "R.O.O.T.S.," Flo Rida describes overcoming the poverty and danger he faced as a youth to follow his dreams. "I can't hate where I'm from/'cause where I'm from made me," he triumphantly harmonizes on the track. "I came from the bottom of the slums/But now I got me."
A lady with undeniable star power appears on "Jump." Nelly Furtado sings the hook as she and Flo Rida go back and forth, commanding energy from the listener. "I'm a long-time fan of Nelly. She's so versatile. I used a whole different delivery on this one," he promises. "We're talking about different situations to get people hype in the club. 'Jump!' Whether you're an athlete running in the stadium or you're in the club. Get hype!"
"Available" is a no-brainer smash, where you'll hear Flo Rida singing over an impregnable dance groove that samples the S.O.S. Band's "Take Your Time (Do It Right)."
Meanwhile, "Be On You" features Ne-Yo, Wyclef Jean appears on "Rewind," and Pleasure P jumps on "Shone."
"'Shone' is short for 'act-shone,'" Flo Rida explains. "A lot of people ask me, 'What does that mean?' Down south, we say 'shone' instead of 'the jump off.' If you listen to the hook, Pleasure P is singing about a young lady who's down for whatever."
"I definitely feel blessed to have been making music for 12 years and still have a career that's so young," Flo Rida expresses. "I don't take anything for granted because my fans could be spending their money on so many other things and instead they're buying my record. I look forward to giving them hot music, consistently."