Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 08:25 UK

Flo Rida goes back to his R.O.O.T.S

by Kev Geoghegan
BBC news reporter

Flo Rida
Flo Rida worked in construction before making it big with Low

What do you do if Eminem beats your record of selling the most downloads of a single in its first week of release?

If you are Flo Rida, you simply turn the tables and reclaim the accolade with another record-breaking single.

The US rapper's latest hit, Right Round, topped the UK singles chart after selling more than 636,000 copies on its debut.

His breakthrough hit, Low, is still the best-selling digital single of all time, with more than 4.5m downloads to date.

"It's just great to know the fans out there are feeling what I'm doing," smiles the solidly built 29-year-old Florida native who, before finding fame, went by the name of Tramar Dillard.

At first glance, it has been a fast rise for the artist. Those sales figures were backed up by two Grammy nominations for Low, which also won the 2008 Peoples' Choice Award for Favourite Hip Hop Song.

It has since spent a year in the UK Top 75.

Perhaps surprisingly for a hip-hop song, Right Round features the hook from 80s pop classic You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive.

Flo Rida says he has been been a fan of the song since he was a child.

"I grew up with this record in my household," he says, "but also, on my sophomore album, I wanted to let fans know that I was doing something different."

He adds: "I definitely loved pop music, like listening to Madonna and things like that."


Flo Rida started life in the Carol City projects in Miami and got his first break at 18 when he began touring with local rap group 2 Live Crew.

They are still best known for their sexual lyrics and the controversial album cover for 1989's As Nasty As They Wanna Be - which featured the members lying at the feet of a group of thong-clad women.

The young rapper struggled to capitalise on his break, working as a manual labourer in Los Angeles just to make ends meet.

His testing time in LA had a deep impact and formed the basis for Flo Rida's second album R.O.O.T.S. which he says "stands for Route of Overcoming the Struggle".

Flo Rida
Wyclef Jean, Ne-Yo and Nelly Furtado all appear on the new album

"The thing about R.O.O.T.S. is letting people know about me, that prior to having this success I definitely came from struggles and hardship," he says, "But I always had a dream and kept my eye on the prize.

"And here it is, I'm able to make people smile and have fun in the club, so that is the approach I'm trying to bring across in the next album."

Despite his record breaking sales, Flo Rida insists he wasn't concerned by the task of following up his first album, Mail On Sunday.

He says: "I don't feel any pressure because I love music and I try to put that first before I think about setting records.

"Fortunately, I have fans who love my style and love the type of music that I make so there's no pressure, especially after making history with the first single."

Downloading future

A recent UK survey into the music-buying habits of British teenagers found a worrying attitude towards paying for music online, with 70 per cent of 15-to-24-year olds saying they didn't feel guilty for illegally downloading music.

While his music is aimed squarely at that teenage market, Flo Rida claims not to be worried by these statistics, and says most of his fans realise download prices are a fair deal.

"As an artist, we have to pay for things like studio time and if we traded those costs, they'd probably be paying a lot more," he says.

Flo Rida

I definitely want to continue to please my fans

Flo Rida

"They're probably in a better position when they buy an album rather than pay directly for my studio time which is about $150 (£105) an hour."

Looking toward the future, Flo Rida is treating the music business just so, as he prepares to launch a clothing line and is, of course, looking at several film scripts.

He says: "It's just a way of branching out and taking advantage of different things you can capitalise on.

"I'm taking advantage of everything.

"Like 50 Cent and Ice Cube, those guys are businessmen but still get to do what they love most, which is make music."

As for the long road to fame, Flo Rida is certainly making the most of it and says even the most ardent fans don't put him off.

"I love it, it's definitely great to shake hands and sign autographs around the world," he laughs.

"I remember headlining a gig in Sweden of about 50,000 people. A lady jumped over the barricade when my back was turned and jumped on my back.

"There were police everywhere but this person slipped though."

But if that sounds scary, he believes it must mean he is doing something right.

He says: "I definitely want to continue to please my fans by being able to fill the dance floor and make hot music."

R.O.O.T.S is out in the UK this week.

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