The logo of a popular, Eurocentric paint company is a paint can glooping paint all over the world, optimistically branded with the slogan “Cover the Earth”. That’s disgusting. Not just because covering the earth with paint would result in a catastrophe of Biblical-if-not-Al-Gore-like proportions, but because of the slogan’s naked capitalist drive. If you’re a paint company, why do I care how much paint you sell? If you wanna cover the earth with your paint, just discuss it in your board meetings or twirl your mustache while you chortle “Cover the Earth” in your secret underground lair. I’m a customer, not a shareholder. I just want good paint. And it is good—I just bought a couple cans of “Recycled Glass” the other day.
I’ve got similar reservations with Pitbull’s popular, Eurocentric new album Planet Pit. The title Planet Pit sounds like some hellish vision of our eco-disastrous paint-soaked future, Wall-E meets the Morlocks on the road, but it’s actually an opportunity for Sr. Armando Christian “Pitbull” Pérez to introduce his brand new slogan: “Mr. Worldwide”! He used to be “Mr. 305”, see, but now he’s got hoes in different area codes. “International Love” (first promotional single, feat. Chris Brown) mentions at least nine locales, plus “countries and cities I can’t pronounce / And places on the globe I didn’t know existed.” (Kyrgyzstan?) So in the interest of increasing his market share and his genetic footprint, Pitbull has decided to grow his brand and sink it deep into virgin territory. He positions himself for action, feels out the strategic gaps, and fills them with his acumen, forever keeping his eye on the back end. The guy’s a rainmaker.
In “Rain Over Me” (third single, ft. Marc Anthony), Pitbull boasts of his wealth, plugs the vodka he endorses, and tries to pick up a woman, all in the first four lines. Then he promises to make the woman’s peach feel peachy, and he pays her, and himself, a compliment: “No bullshit broads / I like my women sexy, classy, sassy.” He seems to be hitting on a fellow entrepreneur inside a hotel bar that’s blasting RedOne’s Eurodance beats. Chatting in Spanish and English, our two go-getters discuss the growing Latino presence in the U.S. and vow to paint the White House blanca before retiring to Pit’s room for a threesome, possibly with Marc Anthony. We never learn the woman’s name.
“Give Me Everything” (second single, peak Billboard position #1, feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer) basically equates the American Dream with getting laid. “Reach for the stars, and if you don’t grab them, at least you’re on top of the world,” cheers Pitbull, before twisting the knife: “Think about it, ‘cause if you slip, I’m gonna fall on top of your girl—ha ha!” Hey Pit, I hear Senator Marco Rubio needs a message consultant. “Everything” glows with flashy synth swoops from Eurodance producer Afrojack, and it opens with a plug for the camera Pitbull endorses.
No product placements in the best song, “Pause” (second promotional single, and the only song on the album without any guest stars), though Zumba has incorporated it into a marketing campaign. Apparently you can video yourself doing “the Pause” for a chance to win fabulous prizes. I’m still deciding how to depict the couplet, “I’m such a dirty, dirty dawg / My teeth will unsnap your bra” through the medium of Terpsichore. Producers Affect and DJ Buddha make things easier; their beat is an enormous Miami-based cumbia with a gleefully obnoxious synth hook that blares atonally throughout, except when everything… PAUSES. It’s sort of a sped-up take on “Shake”, Pit’s ‘05 collaboration with the Ying Yang Twins. Along with “Shake Señora” (not yet a single, feat. T-Pain & Sean Paul), Pit’s handclapped, horny remake of Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In the Line”, “Pause” is one of the album’s few reminders that this captain of industry is also a Latin rapper. He still enjoys bouncing his gruff voice off tropical beats, a vocal conguero, but all those 4x4 stomps from the Continent give him fewer opportunities to do so.
What else have we got here? A Mama tribute that sounds like “Love to Make You Lie”, a Luke/Blanco tribute to operatic orgasms, a perfectly pleasant track from one of the LMFAO dudes, and “Something for the DJs”. Bangers all. Pit tries to sum everything up on “Where Do We Go”, where he ponders his next career move with the multitasking Jamie Foxx. “Half the world don’t like me, half the world wanna be me”, declares Sr. Pérez. Not exactly. I’m guessing nine-tenths of Planet Pit doesn’t know he exists. Of the remainder, a majority probably think he’s a pretty good rapper who knows how to solicit the best club beats his label can buy. But his marketing savvy has at least taught him this: it never hurts to promote yourself as controversial. And that, my friends, is what the rainmakers call sinergy.
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// Notes from the Road
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