Interview: Flo-Rida Dishes On His New Album ‘The Top 10,’ Working With The NBA and More

Somewhere along the way hip-hop morphed into a method of acting Gangsta instead of being a platform for artists to express themselves however they see fit. It’s the same close minded thinking that causes some critics to label rappers who don’t act like super thugs on every song to be considered “soft.” Artists that are strictly about making dance and feel-good music often get a bad rap — but financially they’re way above the compeition.

Even Tupac Shakur, one of the most well-respected MCs, got his start as a backup dancer for Digital Underground. One can even catch trapper-turned-family guy, T.I., doing his hilarious animated bounce moves in a couple of his videos. In reality, it’s possible for rappers to organically make dance records that are great pieces of music. And there’s one rapper in particular who does this very well.

Since arriving on the scene in 2008 with his T-Pain-assisted “Low,” Flo-Rida has built a solid career by making club reacords. He’s been consistent by dropping monster hits — “Club Can’t Handled Me,” “Good Feeling,” “Wild Ones” and “I Cry,” all of which are RIAA-certified platinum. Also, Flo-Rida was tapped by the NBA to record the theme song, “Get Down On The Floor,” featuring Sage The Gemini for the 2014-2015 basketball season.

Now, the Dade county rep is back to leave it all on the dance floor with the release of his fifth studio album, The Perfect 10. He took some time out of his busy schedule to chop it up with VIBE about his new album, the NBA, why he doesn’t cuss on his records and reminisced on the first rap song he penned.

VIBE: Congrats on the NBA picking up, “GDFR.” How did that come about?
Flo-Rida: A lot of times people just reach out to me. They asked what I have going on, and I’ve had songs placed before so it just opened up the avenue. I gave them first dibs to the track.

You’re unlike any other Miami artist. How’d you develop your style?
I think just growing up in Miami, there’s gumbo of different cultures that influence us. A lot of times that’s where that whole international appeal came from, just traveling outside the country and just seeing the success that I have. I just try to keep that pace. When I first started out I did all different types of music just being with my group. But as I branched off… You know, I’m a guy who just loves to reinvent myself. I love to do something that’s challenging to myself and just to see the success it makes me go harder and harder the next time.

Who are some of the guys from Miami that you look up to that we may not know about?
Guys like Billy Blue, Ball Greasy, off the top guys like Brisco. Just to name a few.

Tell us about your forthcoming album? What’s behind the name?
Perfect 10 is the album. I came up with the title from the fact that I just don’t want to put too many songs on the album.. After being eight years in the game I think I have the skills to pick the best ten possible.

Any features?
So far I got Pitbull with the “Can’t Believe It” record. And, Sage The Gemini with “Going Down For Real.” Robin Thicke is on the album. Got some surprises that I’m working on right now. Just trying to make sure that I have them on the right records. We’re looking forward to that dropping at the top of the year.

Do you have any favorite tracks on there?
It’s a song that I got called “What I like About You.” That’s one of my favorites. The song with Robin Thick that’s one of my favorites. Out of all of these songs I’m trying to make sure that I make each one of these my favorites. Each and every one of them. You can’t name it Perfect 10 and have records on it that aren’t fire. I’ve been working on this album for over a year now.

You also have a workout program, right?
Yep, I have a workout program. It’s called Flo-Fit. It’ll be out during the holidays. Lots of people always tell me that my music definitely inspires them to work out in the gym. It’s a cardio workout program. It’s something that just about everybody can do. And I have Flofusion, which is a pre-workout powder.

I have to ask what tour thoughts are on LeBron James leaving Miami?
I couldn’t believe it. But, the fact that he has done some great things in Miami so I’m definitely happy that we got a couple of rings. To go back home and try…you know, some people love a challenge. I think it’s a challenge for himself. And, the fact that that’s his hometown, what better place to be than home?

Why don’t you curse on your songs?
When I found out that my mom was sneaking listening to my music, I decided to make sure that my music is very clean. My sisters told me that my mom put in the CD and listened to it. And, that was like the mixtape days. So, I had to slow it down. Because I have a lot of kids that listen to my music. And, there are parents that go buy my music just because of that fact.

Do you remember your first rap?
It was called “Every Dog Has His Day.” My cousin used to collect a lot of tapes back in the day. He used to order CDs from the magazines when you could but them for a penny. Being around that so much I was like I need to try this and just see what I can do. And, I remember that was the name of the song, but I couldn’t spit it. I was probably eleven years old.

What’s the formula to keeping your record sales so high?.
It’s about what the fans want. We love going into the studio and doing what we do. Preferably it works out. I look at myself as having a platinum album. The last album I sold what? 15 million singles off the last album. That’s equivalent to a platinum album.