Album Review: Flo Rida ‘Wild Ones’
I remember reading about Flo Rida many years ago when he was an up-and-comer, profiled in numerous big-name magazines, which foretold his near certain rise to the pinnacle of his craft within the next week or two. It has been many years since then, and while Flo has certainly left a mark–and had a big taste of success with the single ‘Low’–he hasn’t really been able to differentiate himself enough to shine through as an artist.
Wild Ones is a fairly unique album, and it could be the one that finally sets him apart. It may also be true, though, that his presence isn’t strong enough to hold the spotlight, even on his own record.
‘Whistle’ showcases Flo’s style very well, and it infuses a lot of character into a genre where the tonal focus is more often simply on how loud the bass should be. The whistling gives this track an upbeat and positive vibe, which holds true for the rest of the album. It’s a celebratory party album, avoiding any negative messages, but as a result it also lacks somewhat in substance. The lyrics are all but exclusively shallow boasting and narcissism, which is something the hiphop community as a whole seems to be slowly, determinedly moving away from.
The title track, ‘Wild Ones’, doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. The sound is very generic for today’s EDM-rich rap scene, and that vibe continues through the next track, and in fact through much of the record. The ubiquity of this sound is what sets the album apart from most other straight rap records, but it may also make it a weaker album overall for the simple fact that it quickly gets a little old. The whole experience lasts less than 35 minutes, which may simultaneously be its saving grace and a problem unto itself.
‘Good Feeling’ samples the opening lines to Etta Jones’ classic ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me’, to great effect. So often in hiphop the key to success is the creative use of an interesting sample, and with Etta’s help this song is completely unique. One potential drawback however is that it reveals how unimportant Flo Rida is on the track, and in fact on many of this album’s songs. It’s got a good beat, a great dubstep breakdown, and the sample is cool, but Flo is all but superfluous.
With all of the collaborators featured on what is a very compact record, and with the focus on the music itself, Flo spends much of this album’s short runtime completely off the radar. When he is present, his raps come across like interludes in the middle of songs that could do just as well without him. He’s been a lot more dynamic in the past, but even though this isn’t his strongest showing, his flow is tight, fast, and highly rhythmic, making it very well suited to the kind of music showcased on the record. It really isn’t an album about his voice or his writing at all, but he does at least a passable job, if somewhat from the background.
‘In My Mind, Part 2’ is a thicker, heavier track, but it gets bright and puffy towards the end, which is almost a shame at this point because the album could really use the diversity of a darker moment. ‘Sweet Spot’ features Jennifer Lopez, but otherwise would be fairly indistinguishable from the rest of the offerings of Wild Ones. ‘Run’ is a GoonRock track featuring Redfoo from LMFAO, and the chorus from Bryan Adams’ ‘Run to You’, but somehow, against all odds, it too winds up sounding just like the rest of the album.
It seems to be a trend in hiphop that the producers are more at the forefront than ever before, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it means that only the most talented and creative rappers are going to be able hold their own. Flo Rida certainly has the chops, but he doesn’t make the most of his abilities on this effort, and might as well not be present at all. In spite of that it’s a good record, but the credit should go solely to his producers, and Wild Ones will almost definitely appeal more to a fan of EDM than of rap.
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Image Courtesy of Poe Boy / Atlantic Records