How "Talentless" Rapper Pitbull Achieved So Much Success

Updated on March 5, 2018
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Rapper and producer Pitbull (Armando Christian PĂ©rez) 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.

How Did Pitbull Become so Successful Despite Being Talentless?

Pitbull has been a featured artist on other people's songs or has had other artists featured on his albums, both moves helping to boost his profile and notoriety. All of his hit songs have been collaborations with other famous artists.

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.

Do you think Pitbull lacks talent and uses others to achieve success?

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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?

How do you feel about Pitbull?

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Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Anon 

        3 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Angie 

        3 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        nutty 

        4 months ago

        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)

      • profile image

        dashagh 

        8 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Dgarza 

        17 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Unknown 

        19 months ago

        Why do people hate Pitbull?

      • profile image

        Hans 

        20 months ago

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

      • profile image

        BaBabooey 

        2 years ago

        Please no more Pitbull....please!!

      • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

        Learn Things Web 

        2 years ago from California

        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?

      • profile image

        Aaron 

        2 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Bill Rabara 

        3 years ago

        Zero talent, objectively.

      • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

        Learn Things Web 

        3 years ago from California

        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.

      • profile image

        Nick 

        3 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Learn Things Web 

        4 years ago from California

        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.

      • profile image

        Bradley 

        4 years ago

        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 profile image

        Delshon Creacy 

        4 years ago from Independence, Missouri

        These features are all he has to rely on now.

      • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

        Learn Things Web 

        4 years ago from California

        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 profile image

        Delshon Creacy 

        4 years ago from Independence, Missouri

        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.

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