What can you tell me about Flo Rida? Love his music!
—Ja’Net Jackson, Little Rock, Ark.
Flo Rida, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, 33, was raised by a single mother in Carol City, one of the tougher neighborhoods in Miami, Fla. It was due to her encouragement that he learned that just because you live in the ghetto, doesn’t mean you are defined by it.
“In school, I stayed in honor classes, but I always envisioned myself becoming a superstar,” the multiple Grammy-nominated artist said on a recent episode of MTV’s “This Is How I Made It.” “I don’t want to work a nine to five. Nine to five’s take away from what I’m doing. It was never in my mind to do anything else other than just give my all to music.”
It was his early exposure to music—his dad was a musician who passed down his love of music to his son and daughters—that kept Flo Rida off the streets. As a teenager, he joined the rap group GroundHoggz, then at 18, he became the hype man for Fresh Kid Ice from 2 Live Crew.
Following that, Flo Rida relocated to Los Angeles to work with DeVante Swing of Jodeci, but unable to land a record deal, he returned home, where he finally made a deal with Atlantic Records. In March 2008, his debut album, “Mail on Sunday,” was released with three singles charting.
“My idea of making it was definitely signing on the dotted line,” he recalls. “When I got a record deal, man, I was just in tears, just so happy because I know how hard I had worked.”
As success followed success with the release of several albums (“R.O.O.T.S.,” “Only One Flo (Part 1)” and “Wild Ones”), Flo Rida decided to give back by creating the Big Dreams for Kids Foundation and the Florida Youth Football League (FYFL), two non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of inner-city, underprivileged youth through education, team sports, family enrichment and support.
“If you have a dream and stay positive, there’s no way you can lose. The fact that I’ve come from where I’ve come from and been able to travel the world is just crazy,” he says.