As artists like Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa solidify their specific style to carve out a spot on the top 40 chart, they contribute their own unique qualities to the average pop song we may expect to hear on the radio. With such diversity, performers may fail to discover a niche that allows them to stand out. On his fourth studio album Wild Ones, however, Flo Rida demonstrates the height of his chosen technique—perfecting the average top 40 hit song.
“Good Feeling” and “Wild Ones,” which at this point in their popularity require no mention, epitomize this hip-hop-gone-pop formula. “Whistle,” the newest single from the LP serving as a rather explicit guideline for oral sex, has gathered considerable momentum on the charts, as well. Since Wild Ones barely runs for 30 minutes and contains only 9 songs, 3 singles nearing the top of the charts is an impressive statistic.
Flo Rida’s formula clearly fulfills its purpose. Nearly each track features a guest artist who contributes to the chorus while Flo Rida fills the gaps with rapid-fire rap lyrics, occasionally retreating to an R&B style. “Run,” for instance, has Redfoo delivering LMFAO’s signature quirky beats and lyrics repurposed from “Party Rock Anthem” that function well juxtaposed with Flo Rida’s unrelenting vocals.
Similarly, “Let It Roll,” a stereotypical party track, features an R&B intro and synthesized David Guetta-like piano chords that aim to capture even more listeners who will no doubt be appeased by the familiar beats and themes. Joining this track are “In My Mind, Part 2” with Australian Indie artist Georgi Kay and “Sweet Spot” featuring J. Lo, both of which are products of the same unmistakable top-40 formula. Flo Rida’s harmonization with Lopez towards the conclusion is worth a listen, but “Sweet Spot” remains largely indistinguishable from the rest of the album. Even “I Cry,” a more sentimental, quasi-R&B track, blends seamlessly with the other danceable songs.
“Thinking Of You,” however, manages to bring something entirely different to Wild Ones. As a primarily R&B track featuring only Flo Rida, it is a rare example of the artist’s respectable skill. A surprisingly romantic song dripping with nostalgia, it injects much-needed emotion and heartbreak into an otherwise superficial yet undoubtedly chart-topping LP.
While music critics may disregard Wild Ones as too derivative of nearly everything on the radio, the album is not without purpose; Flo Rida has discovered a foolproof strategy for reaching the top—repurposing popular musical elements as his own. Good artists borrow; great artists steal.