by Nickie Wang
Be it in the Philippines or in the Unites States or in any place in the world, the words celebrity and privacy are never associated with each other. So when hip-hop star Tramar Dillard a.k.a. Flo Rida gave Standard Today his personal mobile number, we asked: “Are you serious about it?”
“Of course! Everyone can reach me through (305) 528-2786. If they just want to say hello or if they need someone to talk to, I’m more than glad to accommodate their calls,” answered the 31-year-old rapper-singer in an exclusive interview.
After thinking that Flo (that’s how he wanted us to call him) was just joking around, the artist cleared any doubts and repeated the number. He emphasized that providing those digits is his way of appreciating the fans that have been very supportive of his career since he started in 2006.
It is not the first time that Flo divulged his phone number, in an interview with the CNN, he also announced it on national television.
Flo was in New York when we had the chance to have a ten-minute chat with him. It happened on a Wednesday morning, a day before the Supafest contingent (including Kelly Rowland, T-Pain and Sean Kingston) arrived in Manila to officially promote the one-night only concert at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds.
“The Philippines is very close to my heart because of the hospitable people I met during my first visit to do mall tours. And also, the people are dynamic I will always remember them as happy and energetic audience,” Flo said in a neutral accent.
He added that whenever he hears the word Philippines, great food and big malls are on top of his head.
The American artist first visited the country in 2008 to promote the debut album Mail On Sunday. The successful record spawned the catchy and hip-hop party music “Low” and two other singles that also managed to penetrate the US Billboard chart. It was followed by another studio album entitled R.O.O.T.S. that produced party and club anthem “Right Round.”
To be a music artist was always been Flo’s greatest dream. Prior to amassing significant international exposures and before the debut single “Low” landed on US Billboard top 100 and stayed there as a no. 1 song for 10 weeks, the Miami, Florida native was just one of the struggling artists featured on a collaboration album called We the Best. It was his first legitimate contribution to the music industry.
“Back then I was just a plain newbie working hard in the studio,” he said and cited rapper LL Cool J and guitarist and song-writer Jimi Hendrix (whose image is tattooed on his left arm) as his influences.
Before he got signed to an independent record label, he was playing some hoops and trying his luck in acting. But because of his penchant for creating music and lyric writing, he found himself going back to his roots and started working to realize his dream.
Now he measures his success with the number of people who take time to see him during tours and gigs. He is actually on an Asian tour that kicked-off in Taiwan. After his visit to Philippine tour, he headed to Indonesia and Malaysia. He will end the concert leg in India before the end of the month.
“Going places and seeing different cultures inspire me to create lively music. I try to learn what kinds of sounds people in different parts of the world enjoy and appreciate,” he furthered.
Flo Rida also acknowledges the support of Walt Disney for using his songs as featured tracks to the dance movie series Step Up. His debut single was featured on the soundtrack of Step Up 2: The Streets (2008), while his current chart-topper “Club Can’t Handle Me” is the lead single to the soundtrack of the latest installment of the motion picture.
“They gave me more than 100 percent support, and if my songs are always associated with these movies…it’s totally fine. It is actually a privilege that’s why I took advantage of it. To put it simply, it’s a blessing,” Flo exclaimed.
Flo Rida takes inspiration from his experiences when travelling abroad and integrate them with the vibrant local culture in Miami to create music. The international rapper said he likes sounds that are upbeat. He matches them with melodic lyrics, which his fans refer as creativity.
After his Asian tour, Flo will be back in the studio to create more party tunes. He will release a double CD in October. The new record, which is his third studio album, is entitled The Only One.
“I think I’ve got so many things to offer that’s why I put them in a double album. I’ll be glad if my fans would check out my website because updates about me are posted there. I always share all the good news with the people who help my career grow,” was his reply on a query about the album and other upcoming projects.
Additionally, Flo lists Beyoncé and Outkast as two of the artists he would want to collaborate with in the future. Like him, they create unique sounds that enthrall varied listeners.