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How "Talentless" Rapper Pitbull Achieved So Much Success

Rapper and producer Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez) has managed to have a hugely successful career and has outlasted many other acts heavily focused on making club music. This despite heavy criticism from music fans and media outlets, who claim that:

  • He isn't particularly talented.
  • He can't sing.
  • He is a terrible rapper (Gentleman's Quarterly ranked him as the 9th worst rapper of all time).
  • He has shallow lyrical content.
  • He has an arrogant and boastful attitude.
  • He lacks popstar good looks.

So, how has Pitbull become one of the biggest stars in the world, earning the moniker Mr. Worldwide, and building a musical empire that includes his own record label? Being a featured artist on other people's songs or having other artists featured on his albums seems to be a big part of the answer.

Pitbull's First Albums

  • Pitbull's first album M.I.A.M.I., released in 2004, peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 album chart and didn't produce any major hits. This was a modest accomplishment, but nothing in comparison to the chart success he would later achieve.
  • At this time, he did become popular on the Miami Latin music scene despite some criticism even then of his lyrics and poor flow (flow is how someone sounds when they rap). He was known well enough that he was asked to co-found a record label Bad Boy Latino with Sean Combs (AKA Puff Daddy/P. Diddy). Combs wanted to expand his already-existing Bad Boy label into the Latin hip-hop and pop market. Pitbull was brought on board to help find new acts for the label. He released his next two albums under Bad Boy Latino.
  • His second album El Mariel peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200 and only sold about 190,000 copies. Again, this is all relative as that is still a substantial amount of units sold, but the record did not make him into a global superstar.
  • His third album The Boatlift did worse, debuting at #50.
Pitbull's early albums weren't commercial successes

Pitbull's early albums weren't commercial successes

  • His fourth album, Rebelution, was the first to be released through a major label, Polo Grounds Music, which is a division of RCA. This was when Pitbull became known to fans of pop and club music. It's the first album that makes heavy use of featured artists, with guest appearances from the likes of Akon, B.o.B, Ke$ha, Avery Storm, Nayer, Lil Jon, Nicole Scherzinger, and others. The album debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 and sold 250,000 copies in the United States alone. However, it was his next series of releases that pushed him into the stratosphere of pop music as he became Mr. Worldwide.

Major Success

In 2011, he was featured on the Jennifer Lopez song "On the Floor." The song was a massive worldwide hit peaking at #1 in many countries and reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. This gave major international exposure to Pitbull, increasing his profile substantially. The first single from his 5th album Planet Pit was a collaboration with rapper T-Pain in the form of "Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)." The song was a decent hit but the follow-up "Give Me Everything," was massive. The song featured Ne-Yo, Nayer and Dutch DJ Afrojack and became Pitbull's first song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pitbull named his 6th album Global Warming because according to ABC News Radio:

"It reflects the fact that, much like the phenomenon of global warming, he's been around for a while but all of a sudden, people are paying attention."

"Get It Started" featuring Shakira didn't do too well but the 3rd single "Feel This Moment" featuring Christina Aguilera was a top 10 hit around the world. He also featured on albums by Priyanka Chopra, Flo Rida, and Jason Derulo. He did a re-release of the album entitled Global Warming: Meltdown with five new tracks all of which had featured artists collaborating with Pitbull. The lead single from the re-release "Timber" featuring Kesha became Pitbull's biggest selling single, with over 12.6 million in track sales since its release in 2013. It was his second Billboard Hot 100 #1 and his first #1 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs (HDS) chart.

Criticism of Pitbull

Pitbull is often criticized for using other people's talents or star power to further his own career because he lacks talent of his own. "Timber" is one example of this.

  • The harmonica mixed with electronic instrumentation was developed by producer Dr. Luke's production company and was the creation of two of his underlings Sermstyle and Cirkut.
  • Pitbull heard the instrumental and wanted it because it was folktronica like the song "Wake Me Up" by Avicii, which was a massive hit at the time. He was in no way involved in the development of the instrumental track.
  • Pitbull initially wanted to bring Rihanna on board to be featured on the song. In other words, he wanted to use Rihanna's star power and name to get a hit, but she declined. However, if she had accepted, the song would have needed lyrics, which would likely have been provided by her songwriting team.
  • Kesha was then recommended because of her knack for writing catchy hooks. "Timber" is bluegrass influenced folktronica that makes use of Kesha's country-style vocal twang. Kesha and her mother, country music songwriter Pebe Sebert, spent weeks writing the hooks and fleshing out the lyrics.
  • While Pitbull wrote and rapped his two verses, Kesha sang about two-thirds of the song. Some people actually thought it was her song and many DJs only mentioned her when playing it. So it is a bit ironic that the song Pitbull is heard on the least has become his biggest seller.

While many people may condemn Pitbull for using other artists to further his own career, some might say he's a brilliant businessman who knows how to put together a hit. This isn't real artistry sure, but it's probably a talent in itself. However, Pitbull has had far more misses than hits. Perhaps he's been lucky rather than smart. The question is how much longer can Pitbull continue to have success making this kind of outdated party music.

Future Success

The club boom that Pitbull rode to the top of the charts is mostly dead. "Timber" succeeded because it fit into the popular folktronica trend, had an insanely catchy hook, and the harmonica sound was different than anything else on the radio. But now the trend in pop music is to write more personalized and serious lyrics.

His follow up single "Wild Wild Love" featuring GRL struggled to gain traction and stalled out at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song attempted to fit into the indie pop boom by using folky instrumentation.

The lyrics to "Wild Wild Love" didn't fit with the current preference for more in-depth lyrical content in pop music.

Ladies and gentleman
You're looking at the new playboy
Who you?
That's right, Armando Christian Perez
And when it comes to that pretty little bitty kitty
Don't stop get it get it baby let me pet it
I got that wild love
Love to get wild dirty freaky nasty, yeah I said it
I'll make you lose your heart and your mind at the same time
Don't believe me, bet it
I'm obsessed with that wild love for sure
Even though it's a catch twenty-two
It's a gift and curse for sure
But baby you know that you love it too, that's why

Was "Timber" Pitbull's last hurrah? He did manage to score another big hit in 2014 via his collaboration with Ne-Yo on the song "Time of Our Lives," but the kind of monumental success he was having has seemingly dried up in recent years.

It remains to be seen if he can survive considering that similar acts like Flo Rida and LMFAO have fallen victim to the loss of interest in party music on pop radio.

What do you think?

Comments

Learn Things Web (author) from California on August 04, 2020:

April,

Having success doesn't equal being talented, and being talented doesn't mean having success. I think it would be great to see more Hispanics enjoying mainstream success. The more diversity in music, the better.

April on July 28, 2020:

He began as an Miami street rapper then popped off so obviously many people believe he has great talent, either you don’t like reggaeton/ hate the fact that a Hispanic became so successful

James Piaz2 on July 05, 2020:

He brings in kickass!!!

O on January 29, 2020:

he has 8 Million followers on instagram, he has a net worth of 90 Million dollars, & he has his own fanbase & alot of people love him so yall just some haters who hates him because he is successful

beside that if you don't like him just don't listen to him, calling him "Talentless" or hating on him won't change anything he is still very popular till this day ;)

Daniel on January 04, 2020:

Absolutely talentless douchebag!

Y on December 31, 2019:

Greasy and disgusting

mutley on December 30, 2019:

most rottweilers tend to get to a point rather more hastily that the one below. anyway.... pitshit is a talentless, worthless piece of yad who embodies everything that is just so wrong about the us of fuckn a. oh... and the international music scene in toto.

JM on December 13, 2019:

Worst rapper, worst dancer

carrhahahaha on October 20, 2019:

pitbull has talent, how can you say he's talentless? he managed to be absolutely talentless but achieve so much, now THAT'S a talent.

Ugogirl on July 04, 2019:

Think he’s great!!!!!’!!!!

Rottweiler on June 02, 2019:

This will probably be an unpopular opinion here, but I'm going to voice it regardless. First I'll say that I don't listen to a lot of rap music so maybe I just don't know what's "good." However, I am from South Florida and managed to never hear of this guy until just recently- what can I say? I prefer rock music. So I missed out on Mr. 305, Worldwide or whatever he calls himself until about 2 months ago. I live in Orlando now and they have been advertizing a free concert of his for the past couple months. The idea of the concert is one I have incredible respect for- it's to raise money for the family of an injured police officer that was shot in the line of duty. And I'm sure that Pitbull did the concert for a good rate, although it was a law firm that sponsered and paid for the show so I don't know how much philanthropy was on his part. But all that is great. The not so great part is that for the past few months there have been 3 or 4 commercials that play NON-STOP. I mean non fucking stop. You can't have a cup of coffee and watch the morning news without seeing amd hearing him all over it. It isn't just the dreadful music (Ay ay ai!) that bugs me. It's not even the uncomfortably tight pants. At the end of the commercials he takes off his ever present shades (at a nighttime show) and gives this smile that is creepy as all fuck. I'm not a goddess or anything but something about this dude's face just irritates the living shit out of me. It isn't his fault that he looks so fucking freaky, but when I have to watch 2 solid months of this fucker over and over and over, I will think what I want. I will have my eyes open for 3 minutes and there he is, sounding like he is yodeling in Spanish (ay yi yi!) and dry humping his dancers with his zipper about to bust open and put someone's eye out, and then he gives his freaky fucking smile. And while I'm not a big rap fan, I enjoy some Latin music, but this isn't even Spanish for half of the songs in the ads. (zig-a-zig-a-LOOK AT MY PANTS, DALE!!!!) It's just gibberish. Since he has taken over the Orlando news' ad space and there is no escaping him, I looked him up. First thing I see is a story where he went to get a cell phone and the poor clerk at the phone place DID NOT GIVE HIM A NUMBER WITH A 305 AREA CODE! Mr. 305 can't have that! So while he was "polite to the clerk, he took off his shades and had a word with the manager" and the clerk ends up fucking fired. Wtf is that shit? I wouldn't have known who this silly fucker is either and it's downright shitty that he would have someone lose their job over this. Now I know you have to take some news stories with a grain of salt and that they can be prone to exaggeration, but once he saw that in the news, he is the biggest twat in the world for not saying that it wasn't the real story if it wasn't. The phone store clerk probably needed their job and shouldn't be required to be aware that there may be a random musician that simply NEEDS that area code. And if he is Mr. Worldwide, shouldn't he accept that the world is expanding and just tell the unlucky clerk that he has a stupid fucking nickname and that he absolutely must have that area code without getting them canned? Even if the story wasn't true, it just made him seem like a complete and utter douchebag and didn't make me any happier to see his freaky smile and his painted on pants every morning. Or any less annoyed that his songs were so annoying that I got in the habit of hitting the mute button so many times that I was half tempted to chuck the tv out the damn window some mornings.

The one thing I like about Pitbull is that his concert was last night and I no longer have to see the commercials every morning to see what the God damn weather is going to be like and what traffic is like. Thank you, Pitbull, for that. Please go back to Miami, or the World, or wherever the hell you started. Your music is shitty and your face annoys the fuck out of me.

Zololo on April 18, 2019:

Pitbull is OK, as long you never put him in Hip-Hop

Ben Klug on April 01, 2019:

Pitbull is the GREATEST musucian of not only our lifetime, but to ever walk this plane of existence. He is an active warrior for protecting the environment, produces massive hits, and is overall a rad dude. I'd go so far to say that he is my idol. God bless this man #LovePitbull

Prabhakar on February 12, 2019:

If someone doing his best and many people accept him.. so who you are to creat question on him?? #lovePitbull

Esthela on January 12, 2019:

I would like to know if he really is the one that has a facebook acct. ,cause i only see picture that has been posted , not a single video live please . Anyone now where is his live music ??

Carson Maitland - Smith on August 26, 2018:

I can't believe Pitbull's all washed up now

Learn Things Web (author) from California on July 16, 2018:

Caro,

I suppose talent is in the eye of the beholder. He knows how to make club music people want to hear. But no one with any expertise in songwriting, rapping or singing would consider him to be very talented in any of these.

Caro on July 10, 2018:

People are just stupid to think is not talented.

Why? Because he think before everybody to do featuring in almost song he sang. You don't think it was good for all the other artist.

Like some of them, I listened more their music because they featuring in a PITBULL song. So just shut up.I understand you have your article and chart and what ever you have to criticize because its your job but fuck he think about that before someone else so....

Anon on April 15, 2018:

He's successful because he makes music that people actually like. Because if they didn't how would he sell so many singles? :)) He's a great person who deserves his success and fame. He uses his fame to actually HELP people who need it. Can't say the same for others "talented" celebrities.

Angie on April 01, 2018:

Talented or not I'll always be a huge fan of his music. He's a super bright genius person as well as a business guy. Is obvious when a musician has no talent at all he or she don't get awards,nor recognition's or their own star of fame never the less collaborating with many famous singers time and time again. If he so uses other singers talent why not other singers should do the same to stay on the top charts it's all about staying at the top morons and compete in the music industry. If other singers choose to decline opportunities of crossing over to a Latin or other markets it's their loss and poor business decisions and low ambitions to become just like Mr. World Wide. Envy and jealousy aren't ones best friends.

nutty on February 21, 2018:

I can't allow you people to rule the world. Flow is insanely important when rapping, and he has 0% even choosing to "rhyme" a word with the same word. Breaking into spanish doesn't help either.

Seriously, well done to him, amazing work, but he his talent does NOT lie in the lyrics he spins, just the chance that it will be a hit.

Live long and prosper Pitbull, may your lyrics make little to no sense, nor should they rhyme. But i enjoy the fact that you are sticking it to "the man" and may you forever be mr 305, living it live, on a jive, never dive, or lose sight (that last "rhyme" is for you bro)

dashagh on November 15, 2017:

He is a really good rapper and I love him and he is talented also

Dgarza on February 05, 2017:

Waiting, waiting, and waiting! Love Pitbull! He is very talented, love his music and he can really work a crowd!

Unknown on December 19, 2016:

Why do people hate Pitbull?

Hans on November 04, 2016:

Miami was the Best from Pitbull, the rest was more and more mainstream shit

BaBabooey on May 26, 2016:

Please no more Pitbull....please!!

Learn Things Web (author) from California on August 19, 2015:

Aaron,

I agree he's a great performer. He's energetic and charismatic. So, I'm not sure I would ever say 100% talentless. But when it comes to music creation he hasn't shown any. I often wonder though if he tried to address more serious topics in his raps, could he earn respect? Could he be good at it?

Aaron on August 18, 2015:

I saw him perform at an event once and he's a great entertainer. Performance ability is a talent so he does have talent. But if he can't sing, rap, dance or produce I'm not sure if he has a right to be on a stage in the first place. He also rapped with a backing track which seemed unnecessary. He entertained me though so he's good at showmanship.

Bill Rabara on March 21, 2015:

Zero talent, objectively.

Learn Things Web (author) from California on November 19, 2014:

Nick,

It's true that many not-so-talented people get a pass simply because they make serious music. And plenty of talented people make pop music and are written off as untalented because their music isn't thought to be serious enough.

Nick on November 18, 2014:

He's a good performer and that's about it. At least he doesn't pretend his music is artistic or serious. There are alternative artists who aren't great either but they get taken seriously because there music deals with serious topics. As much as I dislike pitbull I prefer him to other not so talented people who believe they make "real" and "artistic" music when they're really pretty bland.

Learn Things Web (author) from California on May 14, 2014:

Bradley,

Exactly. He's everywhere and he has a lot of charisma. It's worked well for him so far even if he has more fails than hits.

Bradley on May 13, 2014:

He's one of these people who keeps their name out there by always having a song out. He has I think 4 songs out now including features for others. That's easy to do when you have very little involvement in making your music. And yes he has more misses than successes. It's like throwing mud at a wall and seeing how much sticks.

DelshonC6 on May 08, 2014:

These features are all he has to rely on now.

Learn Things Web (author) from California on May 08, 2014:

DelshonC6,

I'm not sure it's so much that he's talentless either. Maybe more that he stuck with what seemed to work and never branched out much beyond it. But whenever I like his songs, it's always because of the features.

DelshonC6 on May 08, 2014:

I wouldn't call him talentless, because music is very subjective, but I concur that without features from women with the slightest bit of clout, there would be no Pitbull. I also believe that commercial success ruined everything we loved about him when he first came out. I'm sure the Top 10's stroke his ego, but everything he releases is beyond lackluster.