LOS ANGELES — Flavor Flav knows his clock is ticking, and not just because he wears it around his neck.
The 45-year-old Public Enemy rapper has been promising a solo album for years, but he's certain 2005 will be the year he moves beyond being hip-hop's most beloved sidekick.
With an increased profile thanks to "The Surreal Life," Flav has had some label interest, but his plan is to release Flava Tonic on his own.
And while Flav is friends with countless rappers, the album will be without collaborations, except for producers the Beatnuts and a possible duet with Ce Ce Peniston, the disco-pop singer who scored early-'90s hits with "Finally" and "We Got a Love Thang."
"The Flavor Flav is holding it on his own," the rapper said recently. "I ain't really collaborating with nobody. I'm holding it on my own. And the reason why is I wanna show the world that I can."
For the first single, he's set on "Flavor Man." "It's hot," he said. "It's a party track, the whole nine."
Flav is also working with Public Enemy on an album due in 2005, but perhaps his most anticipated project is "Strange Love," a reality show debuting Sunday on VH1.
"Strange Love" follows the everyday lives of Flav and actress Brigitte Nielsen, the odd couple who drove ratings on last season's "Surreal Life." Although some see the show as exploitative, Flav considers it strategic.
"That's why I moved out here to California, so I can pursue TV and movies," Flav said. "I'm on 'Surreal Life,' so hopefully someone will see me and put me in movies. If they don't, I'll put me in my own movie."