The title to Flo Rida’s new album R.O.O.T.S. (Route of Overcoming the Struggle,) conjures up visions of a lost Tribe Called Quest album. But have no fear Flo fans — R.O.O.T.S. is full of the saccharine club Hip-Pop we’ve come to expect from Miami’s favorite hunk rapper. There’s little room on the album for intellectual stimulation or exhibition of lyrical virtuosity, and most of the songs seem crafted for those with attention spans of 90 seconds or less.
But there’s a demand for this kind of music, and Flo Rida and his slew of producers (will.i.am, Danja and Timbaland are the biggest names) effectively feed the monster. The ubiquitous lead single “Right Round,” coldly capitalizes on 80’s nostalgia, updating the Dead or Alive original with modern synths. Flo Rida helps the cause with his easy on the ears staccato sing-song flow, even if the lyrical content rarely rises beyond “She’s amazing/the fire blazing hotter than Cajun.” Like many other songs on the album, “Right Round,” can be appreciated as a well-crafted Pop track — you find yourself singing along despite hating yourself for doing so.
R.O.O.T.S. moves quickly from club hit to (hopeful) club hit. The pulsating dance bass of “Jump,” stands out and a guest appearance from Nelly Furtado suggests future chart success. “Shone” finds Flo Rida looking for “girls with that thickness,” utilizing the standard methods of 2009 pimpitude (chains, money and/or Patron.) There’s absolutely no subtlety in the seductive methods of Flo Rida and his cohorts. “Shone” guest Pleasure P clears up any confusion with the lyric “when I say ‘Shone’” I’m talking about sex, and Ne-Yo and Flo Rida summon their inner Ron Burgundy with a chorus of “I want to be on you.” Romantic it’s not, but the combination of R&B hooks, Flo Rida’s rhymes and dance beats will appeal to those just looking to have a good time.
Occasionally, there are moments where the dance party stops and Flo Rida hints at having the ability to branch out lyrically. “R.O.O.T.S.” is a frank, if unoriginal look back at his past and how success has changed his life. “Never” is an attempt to pass on wisdom and inspire to those that follow behind him. But ultimately Flo Rida’s afraid to take too many lyrical or musical risks that could tarnish his well-polished image of a slightly thuggish party rapper. This may limit his artistic potential and offend Hip-Hop purists, but it’ll make him a shitload of money as the singles off this album last well into the summer. Consider the struggle overcome.