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Flo Rida goes from the Miami projects to super-stardom

Flo Rida goes from the Miami projects to super-stardom

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Tramar Dillard, aka Flo Rida, made his name in the hip-hop game when he took it by storm in the early part of the millennium.

His single "Low" featuring T-Pain on Flo's debut album "Mail on Sunday" kicked off at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2008. That song is a nightclub mainstay and can be heard at clubs in most cities.

He started his own management company, Strong Arm, and subsequently started his own record label, IMG with friend, Lee "Freezy" Prince.

Flo Rida is also a philanthropist and is involved in the nonprofit, "Big Dreams for Kids."

Flo called The Weekender in advance of his headlining gig at Saturday in the Park. Here is part one of the conversation. For part two, look in the Friday Sioux City Journal.

Q: When and how did you first get into making music and how did your father impact that?

A: "I've always been making music. I have seven sisters. I'm the youngest of them all. They had a gospel singing group and I always sang with them. As far as pursuing music professionally, I remember when I was 15 I was in a group called the Groundhoggz. It took me about 10 years until I finally made my deal."

Q: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

A: "Michael Jackson, of course. Jimi Hendrix, Nelly, who I'm blessed to be going on tour with this summer, LL Cool J, Luke...all the Miami artists. The Beatles. Growing up in Miami you have the Latin, the Caribbean...everything. It all kind of rubbed off on me."

Q: What did the move back home to Miami from L.A. do for your career?

A: "It took it (my career) to where it is today. As you know I was out in L.A. for almost five years pursuing music. The guy who ended up being my manager now, Freezy, saw me. I wouldn't answer his call. He is married to my sister, so he got her to call me. They had an opportunity and asked me to come back, so I came back to Miami. I met with E-Class, the CEO of Poe Boy Records and the rest is history. I'm glad I picked up that phone."

Q: Tell us about the nonprofit, "Big Dreams for Kids," why you support it and what it means to you.

A: "I just remember growing up and remember Reggie White, who played for the Packers and the Eagles. He came to my project. I remember him telling us we could be anything or anybody we wanted to be. That really impacted me that people of influence, celebrities and athletes, didn't know the influence they had.

"I knew that if I was ever in the position to give back, I would. I got established and started making money, so I wanted to give to the community; primarily to the projects where I grew up, which is now called Miami Gardens. We got about 10,000 kids in a football league. 'Big Dreams for Kids' is the umbrella organization. Underneath, we have the FYFL, which is the Flo Rida Youth Football League. I took 100 kids to LA to play against Snoop's team. He has the SYFL. It was the kids first time on a plane. We took three teams out there. We also have the Strong Arm Elite Track Club. We have Future Leaders for kids who maintain a 4.0 average in school. There are 300 kids in that program. We do a gospel event, too. All our events are free and open to the public. I like to give back."

Q: What do you think of headlining a free music festival that attracts tens of thousands of fans annually?

A: "Any time that I can share my gift with the world and come to a place like Iowa, which is a place I can't even say I'm at once a year, is awesome. I like to connect with my fans, and I know I have a lot of fans in Iowa when I look at social media pages. Folks have been saying they are looking forward to me coming out there, so this opportunity is something I look forward to. The fact that it's free means I'm expecting a full house."

Q: Is there anything you are looking forward to seeing or doing while you are in Sioux City?

A: "Absolutely. I hear they take fried corn and fried stuff to a whole other level."

For more of the Flo Rida interview, check out the July 5 edition of the Sioux City Journal.

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