Pitbull 370 .
(photo credit: Kobi Richter)
On Monday night, Tel Aviv’s Exhibition Grounds transformed itself into a
bumping, grinding, microcosm of Latin-infused hip-hop.
Pitbull, or Armando Christian Pérez, took the stage, Tel Aviv’s denizen’s – many
of them clad in bold neon colors commonly found along Miami’s beaches – were
swaying to the DJ’s loud, thumping hip hops beats.
But when Pitbull
appeared and launched into his hit “Hey Baby,” the room became the Miami Sound
Machine on steroids.
The self-proclaimed “Dade county, self-paid,
self-made millionaire” wasted no time dismissing proponents of the Boycott
Divestment and Sanctions movement, who strongly urge artists not to perform in
the conflict-ridden country. While catching his breath between songs, he alluded
to his critics and said, “If you’re doing something right, you always have
haters. So to the critics, I say ‘thank you.’” It was the only slightly
political note on a night dominated by thrusting pelvises, gyrating hips and
references to money galore. In one of his songs, Pitbull declared, “we don’t
care about [expletive], except getting rich.”
And perhaps if there was
ever a theme to his music, the all-encompassing need to make as much money as
possible – in every corner of the world – would be it. Sure, the rapper spent
most of the time flanked by scantily-dressed dancers in tight leotards fit for a
Skating with the Stars contestant, but virtually every song stressed one point:
Pitbull is in it for the Benjamins.
Opting to wear all black instead of
his usual dapper three-piece suits, Pitbull strutted up and down the stage
working up a sweat and electrifying the crowd with his charttopping hits. His
renditions of “Feel This Moment,” which features a catchy hook by Christina
Aguilera, and his duet with Jennifer Lopez, “On the Floor,” energized the young,
While many of his tunes became repetitive after a
while – there’s only so much one can hear about bedding women and making bank –
the rapper’s undeniable charisma compensated for the less than original lyrics.
His tendency to sample other notable tunes and weave them into his own also
livened up what would have otherwise been a monotonous set list.
used bits of “Tu vuo fa l’americano” – a ditty made popular by the film The
Talented Mr. Ripley – the crowd lapped up his version of the Italian classic.
The title of that song translates to “You want to pass for American,” and that
very may well be the key to his success: He understands the deep appeal all
things American have to audiences worldwide. And Pitbull, whose rags-to-riches
story encapsulates the modern day American Dream – is marketing that message
across the globe.
One listener at a time.