When the Southern-flavored party rap called crunk took over urban radio, Miami rapper and future superstar Pitbull decided it was time to seek stardom. The way Pitbull saw it, "crunk ain't nothin' but bass music slowed down." Miami bass music, that is, the kind Pitbull grew up on. His parents were first-generation Cuban immigrants who didn't let their son forget about his culture. They required him to memorize the works of Cuban poet José Martí, and Pitbull understood the power of words right away. Southern acts like Poison Clan and Luther Campbell were early influences, but as he grew, the young rapper got turned on to the G-funk sound of the West Coast and the New York City point of view Nas brought to the game.
Pitbull got involved in the game himself when he started appearing on Miami mixtapes. A meeting with Irv Gotti resulted in nothing, but soon Luther Campbell called on the rapper to appear on his "Lollipop" single. It brought Pitbull to the attention of the Diaz Brothers management team, who introduced the rapper to the king of crunk, Lil Jon. A Pitbull freestyle landed on Lil Jon's platinum-selling Kings of Crunk album in 2002, and the rapper's "Oye" track appeared on the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack in 2003. Ready to take it all the way to the top, Pitbull unleashed his debut full-length, M.I.A.M.I., in 2004 on the TVT label, with the Lil Jon-produced single "Culo" leading the way.
Soon Pitbull was making guest appearances on tracks by everyone from the Ying Yang Twins to Elephant Man. The 2005 compilation Money Is Still a Major Issue collected the best of these collaborations along with some remixes and unreleased tracks. In 2006, the single "Bojangles" prepared fans for his next album, El Mariel. As the album landed on the shelves it was announced that his next effort would be entirely in Spanish and titled The Boatlift. When the end product arrived in 2007, it was an album mostly in English, introduced by the single "Go Girl."
Two years later he released Rebelution, an album filled with slick club cuts including the hits "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" and "Hotel Room Service." Featuring the hit single "Bon Bon," his all-Spanish-language album Armando followed in 2010. In 2011, his Planet Pit album arrived, featuring the singles "Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)" and "Give Me Everything." Both the singles collection Original Hits and I Am Armando -- a "reloaded" version of Armando -- arrived in 2012 along with his seventh studio effort, Global Warming. The latter album featured the hits "Back in Time" and "Feel This Moment," and when a deluxe reissue appeared in 2013, the single "Timber," with special guest Ke$ha, was added to the track list.
In early 2014, Pitbull released the single "Wild Wild Love," which featured vocals from the girl group G.R.L. and debuted at number 30 on the Billboard pop chart. A few months later, he announced the release of an eighth studio album, Globalization, which appeared near the end of 2014 and featured Chris Brown, Sean Paul, Dr. Luke, and other guests. No less than four singles reached the Top 40, including "Wild Wild Love," "Fireball," "Time of Our Lives," and "Fun." Dale, his second Spanish-language album, followed in 2015, the same year that he launched his satellite radio station, Pitbull's Globalization, on the Sirius XM network. The album was extremely successful, scooping up the Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. It was Pitbull's first Grammy Award win, and the album unsurprisingly reached number one on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart.
The following year saw a return to the English language for the rapper with his tenth studio album, Climate Change. It featured high-profile collaborators like Robin Thicke, Joe Perry, Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, Stephen Marley, Leona Lewis, and R. Kelly, among others. The single "Messin' Around," featuring Iglesias, hit the pop charts, leading up to the album's release in March 2017. ~ David Jeffries