Language no barrier for bilingual rapper Pitbull

Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:47am EDT
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By Leila Cobo

MIAMI (Billboard) - During an early afternoon in Miami in January, over drinks with two local radio program directors, the conversation turned to rapper Pitbull. "He should come over and join us," said one, and impulsively picked up his cell phone and dialed.

No more than 20 minutes later, there was Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull -- sans entourage or management -- chilling over martinis in a nearly empty restaurant overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" was peaking on the charts, and his face was plastered on billboards that were popping up all around Miami. Still, Pitbull seemed immune to the celebrity. This was his town, his turf, his place to stroll about as he pleased. He was, after all, a performer who had hustled his way to popularity, unabashedly seeking out DJs and artists, distributing mixtapes, endlessly posting online, playing parties and doing charity appearances. There seemed to be nothing too big or too small for Pitbull to do.

More than nine months later, that frenzy of activity is set to explode. In the year since the gimmicky "I Know You Want Me" (a remix of the song "75 Street Brazil," by Nicola Fasano featuring Pat Rich) became a worldwide hit, Pitbull has become ubiquitous. Look at the charts and you'll see that his melange of dance beats, borrowed hooks, catchy phrases and entreating, party-flavored raps have become must-haves for an ever-growing list of superstars, from Enrique Iglesias and Shakira to Usher and T-Pain.

"You always have to be relevant," Pitbull says, defending his habit of releasing records seemingly any time, any place. "I've never been a traditional artist. I'm a survivor. And for me it's kind of scary when people try to make plans."


But now there is a plan. On Tuesday (November 2), Pitbull releases his first all-Spanish-language set, "Armando" (so named after his father), with the bilingual "Planet Pit" due in early 2011. Intertwined with the albums are two major sponsorship deals featuring Pitbull's image and music. One, for Kodak's Easy Share cameras, includes 15-second TV spots with Pitbull, Drake and Trey Songz. Pitbull's spots feature his single "Hey Baby" from "Planet Pit," featuring T-Pain.

The second deal has Pitbull as the face and voice of Dr Pepper's 2011 Spanish-language marketing campaign, "Vida a la 23." Pitbull will be featured in the "Vida" radio and TV spots with the song "Good Times (Vida 23)," which he wrote specifically for the campaign. Plans are under way to make the track the second single from "Armando," coinciding with the launch of the campaign in January.   Continued...

<p>Cuban-American rapper Pitbull performs at the 2008 Wango Tango concert in Irvine, California May 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>