Pitbull: The Understanding
With his new album, The Boatlift, the Cuban-American rapper delves in to a varying array of topics even though it fails short on reaching the mainstream. Inside the offices of TVT, Pitbull is relaxed, even jovial while the weather outside remains frigid and cold. A warm smile and an innovative new project allows Pitbull to be seen and heard around the world. And as 2008, a tense political year, gets on the way, HipHopDX sits down with Mr. 305 as he discusses the ups and downs of the music business, his recent comments about Fidel Castro and why you cannot place Pitbull in a cage.
HipHopDX: Can you talk a little bit about growing up Cuban, the adversity youve felt and how they relate to your views on Castro?
Pitbull: Youre pretty much born into the world hating Fidel Castro. When you come from Miami and youre Cuban-American, my views on Castro as a kid, you hear more and more stories and it really hurts your heart. You see people who manage to find a way into Miami and as a kid, its like little horror stories that you never really want to experience. Thats why I have my feelings about Castro. Ive seen him destroy families. Hes destroyed my own family due to his idea of a better way of living [laughs] which only works that way in a book or on television.
DX: There was a time where you were cited on another site talking about how you were offended by people wearing those Che Guevara t-shirts. Where did all of that stem from?
P: Theyd always take what they want out of those interviews. I truly respect any and everyones opinion. I respect anything that anyone chooses to stand for in this life. My only thought is that if youre going to make something as a symbol or as a hero Ill give you an example. Someone walks in here and wears a Hitler t-shirt in front of a Jewish person. Of course that person is going to feel offended and oftentimes he or she would be made that someone would disrespect their heritage given such a historic tragedy, right?
P: Now, if you can justify why youre wearing that Hitler shirt and its a valid reason behind it, then I can respect you for your opinion. You know Hitler; you know his background and all that. But because you have on a shirt that Jay-Z wore on MTV Unplugged and thats your only reason behind rockin it, then thats a problem. Thats the way I look at it. As far as how Cubans look at him back in the country, they dont necessarily fuck with him like that because of how he was down with Castro back in the day. So, its sort of being guilty by association.
DX: Now, you went into the booth to make a song about Castro once he fell ill, right?
DX: So, why not push for more political content with your music?
P: I got plenty of political records. But at the end of the day, Im in the music business. I love to make records. I love music. We got to survive to do what we want to do. As far as political records, therell be a right time and place for me to do that. I want to be able to have the power for people to listen to me when I do it. Do I have the ability to do it? Yes. But right now, I want to make sure that Im doing whats best to enhance my voice amongst the people.
DX: So, do you think with that limiting you that youll just hold on to them?
P: I got plenty of them in the safe. Its all about timing. This is just the beginning of my career, I feel.
DX: Is this album your right time to shine?
P: This album is full of nothing but hits, man. Its nothing but hits, man. At the end of the day, theres nothing political about the album except the title. I hope to be able to put together that classic album. And when I do, Ill definitely endorse it as such, real talk. Have I put together my classic or greatest work, yet? No. Even though I havent, its still there. Its just locked safely away.
DX: What are your frustrations with the music business?
P: I dont really have any frustrations. I just look at them like theyre lessons. Right now, the game doesnt know how to categorize Pitbull. Im too Latin for Hip Hop and too Hip Hop for Latin. Some say that Im Reggaeton or that Im crunk. But at the end of the day, my movement is my movement. I dont give a fuck. Its good music. With that said, everything in the game is how you get categorized and thats very frustrating when you dont think that you fit into one specific box. They cant at the end of the day, do that. Its also some bullshit to deal with the politics. Half of the people in the business dont even know about music. But its gotten to the point to where I have my own team and if it feels right, then we go out and do it. Ive built my own network which is good, so Im able to navigate this business career-minded for our movement.
DX: Do you think that public is truly ready to buy a Pitbull album after riding other trends of Latin-influenced artists like Big Pun to J. Lo?
P: Pitbull is different than Pun, J. Lo and Fat Joe. I have more of an international thing. J. Lo does great music, but couldnt speak Spanish fluently. Fat Joe is just now really learning the language too and hes done everything in the world for me. Pun could do anything, though. He came in the game the right way. He was a lyricist who knew the language and he couldve done it all and then some had he been still alive. I make hit records that are going to get in the club and stay in there for years to come. When they see me spittin a certain way, a lot of the records that come out and dont are due to clearance issues. I recently went to Music Choice and they said that Im the only one on Latin, Black and Pop stations. I have some loyal fans that are definitely that, but the sales arent going to be there anymore. Its not going to be two-three million sold this go around. Id rather have a slow, but a fasho-type of career, whereas, these mafuckas rather get it quick and leave quicker. [Laughs]
DX: You had an ill MySpace look for when the album dropped, but with the Internet taking over the game, how do you revamp your projects around that.
P: Im really computer illiterate to be quite honest with you. But my team takes full advantage of the Internet and makes miracles happen. Again, the industry and the artists take a hit, but you only do that when you dont have your own movements in place. Now, they want to take everything away from the artist and make it a justifiable investment. But its only because the record companies are the ones really losing out on the profits when it comes to the Internet. If youre an artists and youre making connects and when the label tells you to push your own shit, you can
DX: So, would you rather be independent than be with the label?
P: Im set up right now, after I jump off TVT, and Ill be straight. Im definitely trying to do that. [Laughs]
DX: Since you have a lot of people coming after you with the Castro comment why not go to Cuba to speak out?
P: No way! I cant go to Cuba!
DX: Why not?
P: For one, if I go, then all the representatives that I have over here in the U.S. would be like, What the fuck are you doing over there? Youre putting money into Castros hands. I would love to go over there to Cuba. In fact, I just did Cuban radio not too long ago. But Cuban radio wasnt talking about, We love Castro. Theyre really fucked up over there. They just want me to tell them something. No matter how you cut it or slice it, theyre fucked up Oh, they got health care and free education, but 12-year-old girl got to sell herself in order to get food for her family. Some people get 25-years for cutting up cattle for meat. You have to have some sort of genius in you to tell a superpower country, Fuck you, for 40 years. Its like being the biggest dope boy on the block and not letting anyone eat. The difference between Cuba and Venezuela is that Venezuela has money. They got that oil money. This is some real shit. Hugo Chavez [president of Venezula] is going to be someone to watch.
DX: Im good, man. Thanks for talkin with me.
P: You good, thats good Send that shit to Castro. [Laughs]