He’s the teacher and the student – the leader and the follower. It is this trait that helped Miami born emcee Pitbull reach the top of his game, with back to back top 10 singles, his first LP distributed by a major label, a world tour, and many more cameos on the horizon.
On this particular night, Pitbull, real name Armando Perez, plays the role of teacher. Pitbull provides for his crew, which features your typical litany of managers and stage hands, along with a band and DJ. Pit’s company, Mr. 305 Inc., fronts the money for expenses incurred. The crew chows down on a mix of fried chicken and salad, with a conservative selection of beer, liquor, and soda. In the back of the tour bus, also covered by Pit’s company, where a second flat screen and video game system are stored, I plop down on the leather couch. There, I’m joined by the Miami emcee and another one of his students, David Rush.
“It’s like going to college for free,” described Rush of his jaunt on “The Rebelution Tour” – which bears the name of Pit’s recent release on Mr. 305/RCA. Rush, who is also known as “Young Boss”, wrote and appeared on the club banger, “Go Girl”. Every night of the tour, Rush joins Pit on stage for the track. However unlike most opening acts, the Jersey native sticks around for the entire set.
“I get to learn and experience what not to do, what to do, what works on stage, what doesn’t work on stage, and… you get to study, you get to watch and learn,” said Rush.
Pitbull feels Rush is someone who “knows how to make hit records,” as opposed to just someone who may “stumble over” a hit. But in addition to the creative side, Rush is learning the business aspect of the industry as well – as Pit balances both the demands of his own company and of the record label’s.
Part 1: “Rebelution Tour”, “Ellen”, Mr. 305 Inc.
Part 2: Collaborations w/ Akon, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira; New Music
“I’m out here on my own dime. The label ain’t give me no money for this right here,” revealed Pit. “But to me, I am my biggest investment. Not that the label is treating me bad or anything like that, not at all, they just lettin’ me do what I do.”
What Pit has done is continued and extended the grass roots movement he started in 1997. From the outset, there doesn’t seem to be a magic formula to his success. Pitbull works 24/7 – rarely one to turn down any type of request – whether it’s for an interview, a record cameo, or an autograph. The “on-the-grind” mentality combined with the reliability of the person himself, mixed with a lucky break here and there – has landed Pitbull both street cred and mainstream notoriety, a tough status that only few artists obtain in this day and age.
But after speaking with the emcee, you realize there is one other ingredient to his successful recipe – the hunger and desire to continue to learn. This became evident when I asked Pitbull about his recent collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, who is now releasing music under her alter-ego, “Lola.”
“’Lola’ is what Marc Anthony calls her,” said Pit. “To work with Jennifer Lopez was an honor. Especially someone that’s opened the doors for the Latin’s the way she’s done it in the movie industry, in the music industry. More than anything, I watch them and I learn, yunno? And I’m studying, also.”
The Jennifer Lopez collaboration is just one of many on the way for Mr. 305 himself – also on the docket – tracks with Shakira, Kristinia Debarge, and Janet Jackson. Plus, similar to the Livvi Franc track – you never know what Pit will just hop on.
“Right now I’ve been on tour, since I’m the one funding the bus, I don’t get the studio bus,” he joked. “There’s a lot of riddims out right now, that don’t nobody really know about. I’m about to f*ck ‘em up!”