Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life Lessons from Pitbull

So, hopefully you're at least somewhat familiar with the Cuban-American rapper known as "Pitbull." He also goes by the aliases Mr. 305, Mr. Worldwide, and his given name, Armando Cristian Perez.  He is 31 years old and grew up in Miami, Florida, born to Cuban parents.  Pitbull's style of music is eclectic, and has been changing as he gains popularity and appeals to wider audiences: Latin rap, reggaeton, hip hop, electronic, house, and pop.  I started listening to his music in college, loving his reggaeton beats.  When I lived in Nicaragua during the Peace Corps, his music surrounded me, and my fellow volunteers and I turned into forever fans.  We continue to listen to his songs back in the USA, converting many others to Pitbull-worship as well.  His music is so happy and optimistic, you can tell he loves his life, despite his rough upbringing.

Now, there are many "haters" out there who would disrespect Pitbull and belittle his music and lifestyle.  Recently, Pitbull - who promotes a certain brand of energy strips sold in Walmart stores - agreed to visit whichever Walmart got the most "likes" on its Facebook page.  A writer at a Boston newspaper thought it would be funny to "exile" Pitbull to the most remote Walmart in the US, in Kodiak, Alaska.  Of course, since I'm from Alaska and a Pitbull fan, I took offense at this practical joke.  The whole scenario actually ended quite well, with both Pitbull and the Boston writer visiting the Kodiak Walmart, and having a great time.  Who knows what drove the writer's negative feelings toward Pitbull: jealousy, annoyance at his confidence and swagger?? We will never know, but we can rest assured nothing will slow Pitbull down.

I've wanted to write this blog for a while as a counter to the negative opinions I hear about Pitbull (see example at left).  Like most rap and reggaeton music, his songs can be degrading toward women at times.  However, I believe that Pitbull has his priorities in order, works hard, and respects his fans and the Latino population.  His unabashed pride in who he is and where he comes from is admirable and in many ways he is a great role model.  I have found Pitbull's music and his persona to be inspiring, and indeed he has taught me many life lessons.  Read and learn.

1. He remembers his roots; he doesn't change who he is.  Pitbull remains true to himself, being a voice for the Latino-Americans in the US.  Over the years he's been in the public eye, he hasn't significantly altered who he is or tried to hide his background.  He is proud to be Cuban-American, often raps in Spanish, and always remembers he is first and foremost from "the 305," Dade County in Miami.
2. He learns from his mistakes. Pitbull began rapping in high school after his mother kicked him out for dealing drugs. After this setback, he managed to graduate and began to focus on his career, hanging out in clubs and performing wherever he could. He never went back to drug dealing.
3. "Haters gonna hate." This popular saying is commonly spoken by Pitbull, who has his fair share of critics and "haters."  However, he has embraced this criticism and the idea that "haters gonna hate," realizing that it's very hard to change the mind of a negative person.  You have to learn to live with the negative feelings being projected upon you, and the best mechanism for dealing with it is to ignore it and move on.
4. Optimism is the best policy.  In his music and his life, Pitbull has overcome adversity to stay positive and optimistic.  I think this has led him to success, and it's an infectious quality that his fans appreciate.
5. He isn't afraid to dance.  More people should dance with abandon like Pitbull.  Just watch this video if you don't believe me.
6. Work hard, play hard.  Pitbull always talks about how he got himself to where he is today: through hard work and by never giving up.  He sets a good example to younger generations, yet also balances his life with enough fun to make it worthwhile.
7. He's not afraid of making fun of himself.  On Pitbull's Facebook page, he regularly posts internet jokes that are aimed at him: his lack of creativity in his rapping, his obsession with the female rear end, etc., but he turns the jokes around and finds humor in them as well.  He's not too self-absorbed to fail to laugh at himself, and he doesn't take himself too seriously.  I really admire that.
8. Family is important.  Like any good Latino, he always "shouts out" to his family in his songs, and you know that it is one of the most important things in his life.
9. He respects his mom and the ladies.  Pitbull often mentions his mother in his songs.  As a single mom, she struggled to make ends meet by working two jobs.  Pitbull shuttled from one run-down home to another, even spending time with a foster family in Georgia.  Rather than becoming hardened at bitter through this experience, he came out of it stronger and with a deep love and respect for single mothers and how hard women work to keep families together. The lyrics from his recent song with Jennifer Lopez say it best,"We're cheering to everything the women do...single ladies, single mothers, and those that are out there just working hard."
10. He believes in collaboration.  It's a running joke how much Pitbull collaborates and sings with other artists (see below):
Yet, his ability to work with dozens of artists across the musical spectrum is quite amazing.  He appeals to a variety of ethnicities and ages through his collaborations with artists like Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Akon, Alejandro Sanz, and The Wanted.

So, in conclusion, I hope you'll take a listen to a few of his songs.  One of my favorites is Echa Pa'alla which tells you to throw all of the negativity in your life away.  Rain Over Me with Marc Anthony is also a great song.

And I hope after listening and learning more about him, you'll jump on the Pitbull train with me, because hey, haters are gonna hate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice try. I'm still a hater. ~Brett