Somewhere between Rick Ross and T-Pain, 2007 carved Flo Rida territory. This fast-rapping, half-singing hybrid of Pop music delivered the single “Low” that promoted tight jeans and ostentatious boots for legions of tweens and teens this past winter season. Backed by Atlantic Records and the aforementioned Boss‘ management, Flo Rida brings Mail on Sunday. Sans any d-boy credibility in his raps, Flo differs from his local peers, and provides tales of money and girls over platinum-plus production.
To Flo Rida‘s credit, the artist is not completely what we’ve heard from him on Top 40. “American Superstar” defies the silly-intro cliché, and starts Mail on Sunday with a monstrous dramatic ballad. Although Lil Wayne holds the song’s chorus and quirky sound, Flo Rida‘s impeccable timing and crisp delivery sets a strong contrast. Should the album go past two singles, this song plays like a sequel to “Duffle Bag Boy,” and presumably has millions waiting to embrace it. Equally, the will.i.am collaboration “In The Ayer” is guilty pleasure Pop. With Bass influences remixed, the Black Eyed Peas‘ frontman makes a rare southern appearance, giving Flo Rida a versatile chorus and a certified club banger. Mail on Sunday does do what J-Kwon, what Yung Joc and even what Huey couldn’t – he makes a Pop rap album that lives up to its singles with consistency.
But then again, we quickly get the impression that Flo Rida wants to surpass that label. Though he doesn’t dare try to crutch d-boy lyrics, Flo Rida seemingly has two speeds: rapping and singing, and two topics: money and girls. Take away any of the Timbaland, J.R. Rotem or will.i.am tracks, and you’re inevitably having a conversation with an MTV-saturated 15 year-old who doesn’t want to get a job, but needs to pay for an unlimited text-messaging plan. “Still Missin'” is a song dedicated to a “lost hoe,” something that might have belonged on a Suga Free or AMG project in 1991, but just sounds like mallrat banter. The same guy who’s all torn up over his “missing hoe,” wants to tell you that he’s ready to bust machine guns on “Ack Like You Know.” The audience gets no sense of who Flo Rida really is, but rather, we appear to just get a guy who can philander all night with exotic women, and make a lot of money all day, doing nothing. This is the mico-waveable American Dream. Then again though, could the same be said of Sugar Hill Gang‘s “Rapper’s Delight” 29 years ago?
When Biggie Smalls said he had your daughter tied up in a Brooklyn basement on the biggest hit of 1997, we probably didn’t believe it, but damn if it didn’t sound great on a Pop record – and we knew that the degrees of separation from B.I.G.‘s past and present were small. Flo Rida has taken that inch and asked for a mile. Mail on Sunday undoubtedly sounds great at a red light in a big truck, with bus-stop biddies to impress. The beats are polished, and we found a chorus-writing rapper who can outdo his classmates in penning a hit. Still, it’s limited concepts here, and the lack of heart makes this album a commodity in the moment, but reminds us of why Rich Boy, Chamillionaire and Juvenile aren’t given the respect they truly deserve.