A late entrant to the pop charts, at 28, singer/rapper Flo Rida has more than made up for lost time: his debut single -Low’ (feat. T-Pain) broke the record for the most downloaded single upon its release in 2007, and would go on to top the charts on about twelve different continents over the next six months. Ever the blacksmith, Flo Rida has continued to strike while the iron is hot: -Right Round,’ the first single from his second album R.O.O.T.S., broke the sales record set by its predecessor and established its creator as the number one party rapper in the US and, by extension, the world.
Yet while debut album Mail On Sunday relied upon star guests like T-Pain and Timbaland for credibility, the Flo Rida of R.O.O.T.S. is far more comfortable in his own skin. On that record, Rida was so clearly overawed by Lil Wayne’s spot on opener -American Superstar’ that he spent the next two tracks doing his best imitation of the Louisiana rapper. Here, he’s not nearly as self-conscious, and the record is all the better for it. Opening track -Finally Here’ illustrates the point to a tee: arguably the most well-rounded song he’s produced to date, -Finally Here’ is no club banger, but it balances a to-die-for pop chorus with genuinely relatable lyrics about his struggles to date. Like many before him, he’s taken the long route to stardom, and he’s fully entitled to bask in the glow of his achievement.
Elsewhere, there’s nothing particularly surprising: he’s just taken his usual schtick and turned it up a notch. -Right Round’ filches the chorus from Dead Or Alive’s synth pop classic -You Spin Me Round (Like A Record’ and -Sugar’ the altogether more dodgy melody from Eiffel 65’s #1 ringtone -Blue (Da Ba Dee),’ but neither is particularly good: -Right Round’ works because of Rida’s smooth flow and bouncy verse; -Sugar’ just doesn’t really work at all. Yet the most vindicating aspect of R.O.O.T.S. is the fact that, while his gimmicky singles are, well, just that, his fully-original material just keeps on getting better, while the likes of the title track and -Finally Here’ demonstrate both a flair for the confessional and a desire to outlast the limited shelf-life of his club singles.