It ain't easy being Flo Rida, but it's gotta be a "Good Feeling." For the past five years, this self-described "international hustler" has kept his grind cranked to "Club Can't Handle Me" levels, endlessly zigzagging between the studio, the gym, and arena-size stages.
Since releasing his debut album, Mail on Sunday, and its breakout lead single, "Low," in 2007, the notoriously ripped hit machine's waking hours have become entirely consumed by ever-exploding obligations. Stuff like repeat trips to the American Music Awards winner's circle, halftime gigs at the NBA All-Star Game, soccer stadium concerts in Europe, über-exclusive VIP fashion parties on South Beach, and impromptu Japanese Jacuzzi parties with 30 female fans from Okinawa.
The cause of all this hard work and even harder play: a four-song string of Billboard number one house-hop hits — 2012's "Whistle," 2011's "Good Feeling," 2009's "Right Round," and the aforementioned "Low" — that's proven the 32-year-old rapper to be one of Planet Earth's most bankable pop stars.
And the obvious next step toward total multimedia moguldom is his own thriving record company. That's why Flo has been spending so many late nights laboring in the International Music Group offices over the past year.
"I felt like I wanted to be that bridge to the future of music," he recently told Rolling Stone while discussing his role as IMG label boss. "Just to be the avenue for those who work hard and really enjoy making music."
He wants young, hungry up-and-comers, just like he was when Miami's Poe Boy Records signed him in 2006. After all, Flo's day-to-day wasn't always about jet-setting, pyramid-shaped statuettes, and hot-tub rendezvous with Asian babes.
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Coming up in Carol City's 187 apartments with his mom and seven sisters, Tramar Dillard — not yet Flo Rida — knew tough times, the streets, and being broke. But he put his faith in hustle, grind, hard work, and that excellent dude Jesus Christ, whose 24-karat gold, diamond-encrusted visage now hangs over his heart.
"You learn new things when you work hard," he told Rolling Stone. "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."
So these days, there's "Only 1 Rida" behind the wheel of the Bugatti. And as he raps on "Cry," a supercatchy yet bittersweet look back at his self-made success story: "Oh, no. I can't stop. I was destined."
Rosie Herrera | Annie Tworoger >>