Rapper Pitbull brings a touch of Miami heat to TA

Concert Review: Latin-infused hip-hop sensation Pitbull performs sizzling concert at Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, August 12.

Pitbull 370  (photo credit: Kobi Richter)
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.
Well before 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, enthusiastic audience.
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.
When he 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.