November 26, 2009

My Gut Reaction: Flo Rida - Mail On Sunday (March 18, 2008)

Because today's a holiday (happy Thanksgiving, you two!), I figured that this post should be about a hip hop album that poses absolutely zero challenge to the listener. So before you get your panties in a bunch about the fact that this write-up is about Flo Rida, a guy who named himself after his home state (and not because he can "ride flows" - but that's a common misnomer), be sure to read through the entire thing first. I hope the writing is at least entertaining, even if you have preconceived notions about the guy posing with his arms crossed on the album cover.

Here's what I've learned about this guy in doing my research for these introductory paragraphs. Although, for all intents and purposes, he made his debut on the hip hop radio scene in 2008, he's apparently been around for quite a while. Born Tramar Dillard, he first got his start as a teenager, working alongside the likes of local legends 2 Live Crew. After attracting the attention of DeVante Swing from Jodeci (not unlike how Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Magoo, and Ginuwine all got their start), he found the music industry to be a huge bitch: none of the labels wanted to sign him. So Tramar did the smart thing: he ducked out of music for a period of time to pursue his college degree.

However, the fact that he was attending the University of Nevada in Las Vegas probably didn't help matters any. Realizing that his love of performing hadn't fully left his bloodstream after a rowdy night on the Strip in which he couldn't remember losing his best friend (who was supposed to get married the next day), he dropped out of his classes and made a triumphant return to his home state, by which I mean his family came to pick him up in an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and they stopped at Burger King to pick up a snack prior to driving home.

Tramar, who by now had taken on the creative moniker Flo Rida, signed with the independent label Poe Boy Entertainment (I hesitate to write "indie", as that implies far more artistic merit than this artist deserves), and began to put himself out there, rapping alongside other Florida artists, such as Rick Ross, Trina, and Trick Daddy. (All illustrious names in the biz, I know.) He made his mainstream debut on a DJ Khaled posse cut called "Bitch I'm From Dade County", which used to include the subtitle "We Cost Gore The Presidency, We Have That Much Power", but was excised by the label for not being topical enough.

His debut album, Mail On Sunday, featuring appearances by T-Pain, Rick Ross, and (groan) Lil' Wayne, followed shortly after, on Universal Records.

Now here's one thing I do find interesting about the man's career. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Flo has yet to sell even five hundred thousand copies of Mail On Sunday. This shit hasn't even gone gold. Which is puzzling, when you consider that his singles "Low", "In The Ayer", and "Elevator" were all omnipresent on the radio at one point ("Low" still generates airplay, actually). Then I found out that all of the man's singles have gone at least gold. Flo Rida is an artist of the new music generation: one in which his sales all appear to come from digital downloads of single-serving songs, as opposed to somebody actually buying his goddamn album and discovering that half of the shit on it sucks balls.

So why even release an album, Flo? You could probably live comfortably off of releasing singles for the rest of your career. I've seen how fans react to your songs in the clubs: you'll probably be eating off of them as long as this current wave of hip hop mediocrity sticks around.


The fact that the very first song on Mail On Sunday features the most overexposed rapper in hip hop (Drake would be a close second as of this writing) should turn me off completely, but I'm trying to be objective. A guy who calls himself Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E. provides a beat that starts the album off in a dominating fashion: if Jay-Z were from the South, one of his album intros would probably use a similar instrumental. After hearing the asinine chorus, I've decided that the “roses” are given to the “bitches” as a way of apologizing for calling them “bitches” in the first place. Flo comes off as a fully realized artist right off the bat (relatively speaking), but this song is fairly awful. Not a shock, I know.

Generic (and misspelled) rap song title aside (is it really that hard to spell the word “act”? You used the same amount of letters!), this track still manages not to work for me. However, it does sound completely different than the songs heavily promoted on the radio, so it accomplishes showcasing another facet in the Flo Rida diamond that he probably purchased with his advance without consulting an attorney and a financial advisor. Flo should also “ack” like he knows about health insurance, as the majority of artists signed to major label deals don't have any such coverage provided for them by their employer. I admit I went off topic just a smidge, but that is a true fact.

This song still sounds almost exactly like Madonna's “4 Minutes”, that Timbaland-and-Danja-produced joint that features Justin Timberlake, so much so that I'm surprised that some enterprising deejay hasn't yet mashed the two tracks together. (Wikipedia claims that Flo Rida rhymes on an official Madonna-sanctioned remix to “4 Minutes”, but considering that the first time I read that was on Wikipedia, I'm understandably skeptical.) And yet, I still kind of like this song, although it's certainly not because of Flo's pedestrian pick-up lines. Timbaland's hook also sounds ridiculous (and, if taken literally, graphically violent: the elevator gets stuck when the bodies of hood rats and gold diggers pile up underneath the carriage!). But I like the beat. Oh, don't look so shocked: I'm still a fan of Tim Mosely's work, even if he does farm most of it out these days.

If this song were recorded and released today, it would be one of those radio hits that hip hop purists (I count myself among their numbers, even with my occasional excursions into pop music territory) can't stand, all because Sean Kingston has briefly made himself relevant again with that “Fire Burning” song that your girlfriend likes. (I just discovered that this was, in fact, released as a single: there was just never a video shot for it. Weird. Well, they certainly never played it around my way.) You two may have noticed (if you're still reading this review) that, other than on “Elevator”, I haven't discussed Flo's lyrical skills at all: that's because there isn't anything to say. He's definitely not the worst rapper on the radio, but he isn't utilizing his talents to say anything of substance.

The first single from Mail On Sunday, which introduced the then-unknown Flo Rida to everybody that didn't live in Miami. Of course, radio stations only played the shit out of this because of T-Pain's appearance on the hook, which took place well before he stood upon a boat and sailed into the popular culture harbor. I don't exactly like this song, and I tend to switch the station whenever it's on (I really need to buckle down and get Sirius satellite radio in my car already, so I can just listen to 1st Wave and deal with the hip hop when I get home to the blog), but it does have a pleasing effect on women at the club, so I can't complain too much.

I suppose Cash Money/Universal Records (who must all be fellating themselves with pleasure since they had the foresight to sign Lil' Wayne to an apparent eight-hundred-album deal over a fucking decade ago, well before he became famous) threw in Birdman as an freebie extra when they signed off on the Weezy cameo from earlier. To his credit, Flo sounds okay, although he is much more “threatening” on here than he has been thus far. Baby, of course, sounds terrible.

I guess it's only a coincidence that Flo recorded a song called “Ms. Hangover”, and now one of his songs is prominently featured during one of the most memorable parts of The Hangover (the photo montage during the end credits). This tale of Flo being drunk off of the love (or, more specifically, the vagina) of an unnamed female is nothing new, except that he came up with a semi-clever title. As bad as this sounds already, this song could have benefited from a name-brand guest appearance on the hook. Just not from Trey Songz: that guy gets waaaay too much work for the limited range he appears to have.

Flo Rida skipped school the day the concept of a “metaphor” was introduced, as he literally rhymes about having sexual intercourse with garden tools on this track, which just so happens to lift some vocals from Outkast's “Jazzy Belle”. This Kane Beatz-produced song could have been potentially hilarious (especially when Flo shouts “That hoe cost me my job!” - just try not to laugh at that line) had it not been for the apparent lack of a sense of humor from our host.

The third single (“Elevator” was number two) is an electro-tinged confection from from the sellout Black Eyed Peas. I always thought that fellow Pea Fergie appeared on the chorus: apparently, I was wrong. The writer in me would get pissed about the misspelling of the word “air” in the title, had the artists involved not literally mispronounced the word in that specific way throughout the hook. That's already far too much information for such a stupid-ass song, though. Not one of Flo's best club joints.

10. ME & U
I have to give Tramar a bit of credit here: instead of the sappy love rap written only to garner a female audience, made up of women who would falsely believe that Flo Rida is a sensitive soul because of his lyrics, even when he's fucking the shit out of them and three other groupies at the same time back at the hotel after the show, all while devouring lukewarm room service appetizers and watching a rerun of The Colbert Report, listeners get an angry rant directed at an ex that sounds corny, but then again, most fights with your significant other sound corny when you set them to music. Flo sounds fairly convincing on here, though, so that's where the aforementioned bit of credit comes from.

Sadly, not the K-Ci & Jo-Jo cover song that I was not so secretly hoping for. Instead, we get something that could be interpreted as semi-inspirational. Who wants to hear that shit on a Flo Rida album?

I noticed that Flo suddenly learned how to spell “act”, just in time for this song. Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E. once again mans the boards, this time ripping off Swizz Beatz's style wholesale, which isn't a good idea when Swizzy himself has made, like, one good beat in the past decade (Hova's "On To The Next One". I know, I'm ashamed, but I still like that joint.) Both Flo and Yung Joc seem to believe that not knowing how to behave in social situations is a perfectly acceptable alternative to motherfucking common courtesy. Which would be alright, if the accompanying music was catchy enough. But it's not, so I can't, and I won't.

Oh shit, it's Trey Songz! Run! This guy is like the Gucci Mane of R&B: how in the fuck is he blowing up the radio right now? Just being able to hit notes and color within the lines isn't enough. How many cocks did his manager have to suck for “LOL :)” to become a hit? This track sounds neither freaky nor deaky enough for its title, and I'm an expert in the science of deaky, so this was a miss.

To me, anyway, it has always made more sense for a rapper to brag about his financial prowess on his second album, after the motherfucker has legitimately made some actual money. So this song is already goofy. Officer Richard Ross is a fellow Florida resident, so his presence on this track isn't entirely unjustified, but I can think of at least three other folks I would have rather seen used. (Luther Campbell, because it would be funny if he tried to rap again; JT Money, just because I've been wondering whatever happened to that guy; Trina...okay, I'd only want to look at Trina.) This song is as good a way to end an album as any, although that isn't saying anything.

THE LAST WORD: It won't surprise you two to learn that Mail On Sunday isn't a very good album. What will shock you, though, is that I didn't hate it. Flo Rida is a pop artist through and through (I cannot picture this guy continuing to record independent albums when the money train rolls away – I'm sure he would give up on music, finish up his degree plan, and enter the work force), but he isn't the worst rapper out there: he does have a bit of a flow. And he's smart enough to realize that getting the women to like your music is the key to financial success: that's why the majority of Mail On Sunday is programmed to appeal to that half of the world's population. The missteps arrive when Flo decides that the streets are also worthy of his presence: as the violent content, nouveau riche braggadocio, and curse words start to flow, so does the man's credibility, right into the street's drainage system. Lyrically, there is nothing here: anybody looking to Flo Rida for lyrical bon mots also probably believes that George W. Bush was a good president. The production, when taken track by track, is also uniformly bland. But when you play the entire album from top to bottom, the songs all blend together in an unoffensive manner. If Mail On Sunday was playing at a party, I wouldn't complain: I would just pour another drink and shut the fuck up. And if Flo Rida's music comes on in the club, my eyes would be directed at the dance floor. But should you ever go out of your way to actually listen to this album? Fuck no! But you could do a lot worse.



  1. to be perfectly honest i wasn't shocked to learn you secretly loved it

  2. Why is it caleld Mail On Sunday. Wait. Male on Sun day. No.

    Nice review I too thought Flo Rida meant he was a super-quick Southern rapper, I was seriously in doubt when I saw his number one songs on itunes.

  3. The fact that U reviewed this album makes me want to vomit.

    Seriously man, U review this but not Lord Finesse/Immortal Technique/Wale?

    Max; get a grip.

  4. Didn't see this coming.

    Can't comment much on this, since I haven't bothered to hear any of the man's work apart from his singles.
    Btw, a (IMO) good Swizz Beatz beat this decade: DMX's 'Get It On The Floor' (although Swizzy's chorus is annoying).

  5. Happy Holiday's, HHID. Some of the stuff on this album is plain corny, but should we expect that from a black guy from Opa-Locka, FL? As bad as some of this stuff sounds, it's amazing what you can get used to.

  6. for all the classics you didn‘t reviewed and you reviewing this piece of crap,c‘mon max,no disrespect but this is bullshit (hiphopjunkie)

  7. why would waste your time , not only listening to this shit but writing a review

  8. Max, when are you going to review Wu-Tang Meet the Indie Culture Vol. 2? I'd love to hear what you think of it.

  9. So everybody missed the part where I explained that I picked this shit because it wasn't challenging in the least? It was a holiday post, you two. Thanks for reading!

  10. I doubt any of them even read the review, they just saw the title and starting hating...can't blame them, almost did it myself actually. Flo Rida is a rapper(and I say this in the broadest sense possible) I try not to pay attention to though it's impossible with his singles playing everywhere nowadays. I find his music annoying, even when there are chicks around...

  11. The album is meh...

    Hey Max what about some Onyx reviews?

  12. "an expert in the science of deaky"... so that's why dude get upset when mc's spit that token homphobic whatever tho' mang,do you

  13. Man you guys need to lighten up. It's a rap review blog...this is technically considered rap. At the same time, he can do whatever the fuck he wants, it's his blog. He doesn't have to review each talented artists or automatically write up about something Wu-Tang related whenever some new CD is released.

    Anyways, good write up Max. I thought it was funny and didn't mind reading it.

  14. why don‘t jay electronica‘s mixtapes,critics say thaT he‘s the second coming of nas,when i said i mean the early illmatic nas,not bad for a south rapper,right (hiphopjunkie)

  15. Could you please post some reader review or whatever just so that i dont have to see that horrible album/cover everytime i hit your blog please?! It hurts my sensible eyes!

  16. well i can't say much for this album because i only heard the singles which i thought sucked lol.. just another "rapper" not a hip-hop artist... moving on!! lol

  17. people seriously need to calm down, its not like max likes mainstream rap albums, its pretty fun seeing reviews of him bashing these wack guys, so dont take this as a album reccomendation, just take this as if maz is wondering what so good about these type of albums


    You didn't review the best 2006 album alive.

  19. Great review. I can’t imagine the anguish you experienced listening to this. Most people wouldn’t have the inner strength to even make it through “ACK LIKE YOU KNOW”.

    Black Eyed Peas = Sellouts (it just can't be said enough)
    "On To The Next One" = Good

  20. review diamond d‘s stunts blunts and hip hop album pleaseeeeeeeee

  21. I got through track 8, and then couldn't take it anymore. I want to thank you again for keeping hip hop alive!!! The Vultures WILL BE AT YOU SOON, FOR OUR NEW PROJECT. PEACE

  22. lost me at the 3rd line in the intro.

  23. fuck it regardless wat ever max says FLORIDA SUCKS AND WILL ALWAYS even if he get killed my statement will remain the same

  24. Derek ClaptonMarch 26, 2013

    Flo Rida tried, but when it comes to arguments with your significant other set to music, nothing holds a candle to Real Talk by R. Kelly.