This piece was written for the print edition of Preferred Travel, Volume IV 2016, highlighting Miami. Physical copies are exclusively distributed at Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties across the globe. The featured photo is from Pitbull’s Facebook and does not reflect the photos published in the Preferred Travel piece.
Tracking Pitbull is no easy feat. I gathered interview nuggets as he jetted from Los Angeles to Nashville and the Dominican Republic. Pitbull—born Armando Christian Pérez—seems unphased by the organized chaos; instead, he embraces it. “It’s the gingerbread man plan, catch me if you can!” he exclaims. His words are no fairytale taunt, but an ode to his relentless work ethic that spawned global conquests and mainstream endorsement deals. It is unarguable that Pitbull has truly earned his “Mr. Worldwide” title, one of the several monikers attributed to his international imprints. But at his core, Pérez is “Mr. 305”—the Cuban-American mover’s wings always land back in Miami. “I’m on the road 265 days a year, [but] there’s nothing like Miami. I live and die by Miami,” he proclaims. “I feel like we’ve grown together.”
What’s more, his story mirrors Miami’s Renaissance. As Pitbull rose from a local rapper to a breakout success in 2009, followed by number-one hits in more than 15 countries, so did the city fueling him. He peppered his songs with party-perfect beats and headlining collaborations (Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Kesha, to name a few), resulting in catapulting popularity. Miami simultaneously evolved, redefining its inland infrastructure with new cultural undertakings.
Now, Miami and its musical torchbearer are commanding the world’s attention. “Miami is a fun, exciting city. It’s about celebrating life.
Who doesn’t want to have a good time?”
Sharing Miami’s Magic
Pitbull wants everyone to experience his hometown’s festiveness: He’s a Visit Florida ambassador, godfather to the Port of Miami’s Norwegian Escape, and city key bearer. When Pitbull’s ubiquitousness lead to a New Year’s Eve broadcast special, he chose home as his backdrop. But Pitbull isn’t just about Miami’s facade. “I’ve lived in every neighborhood in Miami,” he notes. “People make up the heart and soul of Miami, no matter the neighborhood.”
His philanthropic efforts and public appearances echo his words. Pitbull cofounded Sports Leadership Arts Management (SLAM ) academy, a public charter school on the city’s postcard-less outskirts, aiming to arm students with tools for success. The school mirrors where Pitbull grew up and a time when a former teacher gave a young man the confidence boost to pursue music full-time. “When I look at my younger self, I’d tell him work pays off. If you believe in it, you can achieve it. Whatever’s impossible is possible.” He adds, “The students at SLAM are smart, creative students. We give them an outlet to turn their interests into passions.”
Pitbull plans to propel through 2016. Summer welcomed Climate Change, his tenth studio album featuring songs with Leona Lewis and Stephen Marley that paralleled the North American Bad Man Tour with Prince Royce and Farruko. He also teased “big things” on the horizon with Voli Vodka and Norwegian.
Pitbull’s ability to contagiously cross genres and brands may root back to his youth, evolved by his present day passport-stampings and fearless collaborating. “Growing up in the eighties, I was influenced by so many artists. As a kid, I turned to music as an escape. Fans can hear it in the music I create,” he explains. “I looked up to everyone from Nas, Biggie, and Tupac to Celia Cruz. Music gives you the opportunity to try new things: That’s what I love about it. Music is truly the universal language.”
Miami may have given music a truly universal advocate.