Only One Flo (Part 1) by Flo Rida
Though Flo Rida was already 28 years old when he released his debut single, the smash hit and longest-running Billboard Number One of 2008, "Low" featuring T-Pain, the past three years of a four-year career in the music industry have brought unparalleled success to the distinctively-bearded Miamian: he has since released the four-times platinum selling duet with Ke$ha "Right Round" and achieved platinum status with "In the Ayer," "Sugar" and, most recently, "Club Can't Handle Me" with David Guetta, the lead single of his latest album, Only One Flo (Part 1).
His third in all, the album is a brisk and fast paced listen, not at all bogged down by lackluster filler material. As for how this effect was achieved: the album is only twenty-seven minutes long. Though some would argue that, in the age of the seventy-nine minute and fifty-nine second hip-hop album, a release of this length can hardly be considered a long player—for example, Ke$ha's recent EP Cannibal is actually about five minutes longer—it's also arguable that, since it's nearly impossible for even a talented artist equipped with any number of songwriting wizards to maintain a consistent level of quality throughout such a bloated running time, a relatively straightforward album of eight three-minute pop songs is, in theory, preferable to a interminably boring overlong sequence with with maybe eight good tracks. Furthermore, such a release seems to suggest that the death of the compact disc may have also brought about a rebirth of an age of not unreasonably long–thirty to forty minute–pop albums.
Starting things off, the succinct, punchy "On and On" features energetic verses and a big memorable hook sung by Flo and rap-rock crossover artist Kevin Rudolf (also the track's producer and co-writer) further cementing the former's status as leading exponent of club-ready, danceable electrohop that can't quite be classified as "rap." For "Turn Around (5,4,3,2,1)" DJ Frank E and Dada Life crib a highly recognize vocal sample from Yello's "Oh Yeah" (famously featured in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and this is rather fitting of a Flo Rida track, given his success with "Right Round", which sampled another mid-80s hit, Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)". Even more clubbed out, and even less recognizable as hip-hop, than the preceding track, it features an even bigger hook and even a fairly decent bridge. "Come With Me" dashes Flo headlong into the realm of R&B, a bold choice as it places the artist's (largely unprocessed) vocals at the forefront of attention, where they had only previously appeared in brief bursts during choruses or singsongy raps. He acquits himself of the task rather consummately though, bizarrely, the chorus of this ostensible love ballad features a direct lyrical allusion to that of the posthumously released 2Pac single, "Hail Mary", a choice which may evince some cognitive dissonance in those familiar with it, as it's largely about killing people. The confused pastiche notwithstanding, "Come With Me" is still a largely successful venture, partly because it barely exceeds the three minute mark--a boon, not because short songs have any kind of intrinsic value, but because short syrupy songs are slightly more stomachable and venial than tortuous pap-a-thons.
And even the opening strains of the Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Benny Blanco-produced "Who Dat Girl" suggest that it might become a number one hit! All hyperbole aside, this suggestion might owe in part to the fact that said opening strains are virtually identical to those of the team's recent hit, Katy Perry's "California Gurls," but I'm willing to cut them some slack as this is, after all, if not strictly a rap album then an album in a genre distantly related to rap, in turn, a genre throughout whose history homage has always been more "functional" than commentarial. "21" and "Respirator" are less impressive: like Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls", the former features a singer with a Jamaican accent (Laza Morgan, son of reggae artist Denroy Morgan) and elements of of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." I wouldn't dismiss it for this reason alone, but it does feel like the first track on the album that wasn't really "written" in any way and is barely even "performed"; the latter, easily the better of the two, is characterized by a murky, larval R&B-influenced verse sequence, a predictably readymade chorus and, save for some spirited dirty south bellowing, a phoned in performance from Flo Rida
The just fine and dandy "Club Can't Handle Me", which features production from French House producer David Guetta, who recently produced The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling," isn't a big departure from the latter hit's winning formula and is a decent stab at a pop hit, but it's far from the best track on this album and doesn't hold a candle to anything to be found in its first half. Concluding the set is an actual hip-hop record (or something), "Why You Up in Here": with raps from Gucci Mane and Ludacris (who provides a dated and, in light of his tragic death(?) probably tasteless reference to Eddie Murphy's Michael Jackson impersonation from Delirious) and a brilliant appearance by vocal hip-hop group Git Fresh, it's an excellent track to close out the set, but do I detect a hint of the apologist?
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