I Demand A Column: The Curious Case of Flo Rida

By Danny Sedlazek
Pop music is an aristocracy. While the Top 40 sees artists enter and exit on a regular basis, the Top 20 is usually
occupied by a handful of gluttons. Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, LMFAO, Ke$ha, and The Black Eyed Peas have occupied an alarming amount of space in the Top 20 these past three years. In the post-club, pre-dub era of the pop charts, a very specific type of music reigned supreme. Rock was nowhere to be found, and rap was few and far between. Besides the occasional throwback to the early 2000’s club-banger, hip hop was mostly regulated to the bottom of the top 40. I say mostly, because there is one man who has somehow managed to cut himself a piece of this pop music pie.Enter Flo Rida, a rapper hailing from Carol City, Florida with a knack for awful puns. He’s had 11 top 20 hits off of only four albums in the past five years. 25% of all of his songs have charted in the Top 20.Yet if you combined the total sales of all four of those records, it wouldn’t be enough to go platinum.How is this possible? The man is clearly successful and knows how to make a hit song. Piracy can’t account for such a massive drop. Other people who have had far less success can go multi-platinum in less than a year. Flo Rida has never even gone gold.
It all comes down to identity.Flo Rida’s most famous songs: “Low,” “Club Can’t Handle Me,” and “Right Round” all are centered around extremely catchy pop chorus sung by a guest (T-Pain, some sample, and Ke$ha respectively). The most recognizable part of his hits do not feature him. His forgettable verses don’t help. I swear he finds a way to rhyme “bottles” and “models” at least once per song.He has no identity. He’s devoid of personality. You’d recognize Lil Wayne, Kanye West, or Drake on the street. Yet Flo Rida, whose own mother couldn’t pick out of a police lineup, is just as successful, if not more, than these superstars on the radio.
No one buys his albums because no one knows who he is.This also explains his huge success on the pop charts. People grow weary of overexposed celebrities. If a singer is on the radio for 20 minutes out of every hour, audiences are going to want to hear something new. That is, if they can recognize who is performing.Flo Rida is faceless; people can’t grow bored of him. He blends so well into the background, you don’t feel his presence on the radio. Even if you listened to Flo Rida for an hour straight, I doubt many people would be able to tell you who they just listened to.

In a world of extremely colorful celebrities, who do everything possible to shock and stand out, it’s ironic that one of the most successful artists of our generation only gets stopped in the street for jaywalking.