Calling Flo Rida’s Wild Ones a club-rap album doesn’t seem like it quite gets the point across. In order to portray the extent to which the LP borrows from the EDM zeitgeist, you’d need to shoulder the thing with a genre tag something akin to “CLUB (…rap),” or maybe, “Dance Music Over Which Flo Rida Occasionally Talks Real Fast.”
The fourth LP from the Florida (duh) based MC, Wild Ones completes Flo Rida’s eager journey away from the street and into the waiting embrace of the club. It warrants mentioning that in 2008 (on his debut LP Mail On Sunday) Flo Rida made a habit of letting the world in on such facts as his ability to carry “two magnums in [his] hand / one for creeps, one for freaks.” On Wild Ones, the closest Flo comes to physical harm is a possible hamstring injury that he risks in order to pour champagne on his lady of the moment.
While the economics of putting out a club record, or at least a couple of club-friendly singles, have induced many MCs to compromise their hardcore cred, tradition has dictated that the aforementioned rappers at least pay lip service to their continued bad-assery whilst inducing fans to shake their bad asses. Flo Rida, however, displays no such divided spirit.
A production team led by DJ Frank E and soFLY establishes Wild Ones’ vehement allegiance to house music right off the bat with “Whistle,” a track whose assiduous bass and ensorcelling hook set the tone for the rest of the record. “Run” pairs Flo Rida with party-bro exemplars LMFAO for what is (curiously enough) Wild Ones’ most restrained bit of nightlife lionization. “Good Feeling” puts aside all pretenses and just bites one of the best club tracks of the past year. By borrowing a sample from Etta James’s “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” producers Dr. Luke and Cirkut create a barely-not-copyright-infringing impression of Avicii’s signature club banger.
To be fair, Avicii earns himself a production credit as well, but the track still serves as the most damning piece of evidence in the case for Flo Rida’s willingness to borrow EDM’s innovations, ply them with a fresh coat of paint, then release them as his own.
Neither Flo Rida’s nimble flow nor the dance music he insists on copy-pasting present any cause for offense in and of themselves, but after listening to Wild Ones (which clocks in at a scant nine tracks) it’s hard to feel like Flo deserves much of the credit for the album’s successes. The LP’s dance tracks offer admirable examples of the present fetish for house-leaning techno, and Flo Rida’s most praiseworthy contribution to the collection is his talent for knowing when to stay out of the way. Wild Ones’ best tracks—“Whistle” and “Good Feeling,” for the record—demand only competent filler to pass the time between their hooks, and could have turned out just as well had they been placed in the hands of Katy Perry, Chris Brown or Nicki Minaj.
You could find worse examples of both house music and hip-hop than those presented on Wild Ones, but you could also find better ones, and pretty easily, too. In a world that holds the music of David Guetta, Avicii, Rick Ross and Kanye West at the remove of a mouse click, it’s hard to articulate just why Flo Rida demands attention in the first place.