To paraphrase ’80s hip-hop greats the Funky Four Plus One, what you hear is what you get with Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones.” Just about nothing on the singer-rapper’s new album lies behind the surfaces of its sleek nine tracks but the pumping beats and hollow bravado that propel them.
The record’s high point is surely its title track, featuring perkier-than-usual vocals from down-tempo Australian singer Sia Furler, whose breathy melodicism sets Flo’s big, spongy dance-pop in refreshing relief. And “Good Feeling,” the album’s Latin-tinged first single, is worth hearing for its throbbing bottom and sample of an early Etta James hit. That said, the song’s bloated allusions to adrenaline, mountaintops and walking on water highlight one of the disc’s biggest shortcomings — the utter lack of imagination, or maybe effort, evident in Flo Rida’s rhymes and lyrics.
A refreshing exception, “Thinking of You,” captures him at a vulnerable moment, “daydreaming about what could never be.” Compared with the would-be double entendre of “Sweet Spot,” in which he promises guest vocalist Jennifer Lopez “a whole lotta rubbin’ and touchin,’ ” “Thinking of You” is downright deep, even philosophical.
Granted, this is music designed for the dance floor and it often delivers on that score, especially on the head-bobbing “I Cry” and on some of the other lush, humid grooves on the record. Fewer empty-calorie offerings and less pro forma fist-pumping and bluster, though, might have given this otherwise buoyant blend of hip-hop and dance pop — its brevity, at 34 minutes, militates against its lapses — more staying power as a listening experience.
“Wild Ones,” “Thinking of You”