Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull, CNCO, DJ iLL-Set
June 18, 2017
The year was 2004 when I walked into the Soundwaves on Montrose and purchased the M.I.A.M.I. CD by a Cuban-American rapper named Pitbull. It was my favorite album to bump the little Chevy Cavalier I drove at the time, the 12-inch subs and 1,000-watt amp causing the whole car to rattle as I cruised Airline Drive and Irvington Boulevard near my home in the Near Northside. I was introduced to rap late in life, almost high school age, when I distinctly remember listening to "Regulate" by Warren G on my yellow Sony Walkman with the bass boost at full volume.
Rap was a world of difference away from the cumbias, boleros and corridos that my parents introduced me to, and I was mesmerized by the lyricism and production. Pitbull was the one who combined both worlds for me, utilizing the freestyle and street-style nature of krunk and Miami Bass and blending in songs with lyrics en español with tracks like "Culo" and "Toma." Not to mention that the ladies loved dancing and grinding with us at Latin Nights across the city whenever the DJ spun a Pitbull track.
Of course, that was before Armando Christian Pérez became Mr. Worldwide and wore designer suits and oversized shades to every show. It certainly shows his maturity as a man and as an artist, and last night at Toyota Center, it certainly looked like he continues to that same down-to-earth "Lil Chico" Pitbull just trying to have fun and let it all hang out.
The song titles and content have evolved as well. From names like "She's Freaky" and "Dammit Man" to the more introspective "Feel This Moment," "International Love" and "Rain Over Me," Pit wants us all to live life to the fullest, but also not to forget our roots. He is also a champion of the beauty of diversity, which is the greatest treasure his movement tries to provide.
"Music brings everyone together!" he proclaimed from the stage mid-set. "Together we must get rid of the negative era that this country is going through and be united!" A campaign based on love, unity and the celebration of the people? Yes, we can...hopefully again someday soon!
And yes, he may still have some of the less intellectual one-word-titled tracks like "Hotel," "Fireball" and "Timber" — but wow, are they ever so much fun to dance and sing along to. With literal fireballs and confetti and lasers all around him, Pitbull is the epitome of energy, pride and pure, unadulterated fun.
And if that wasn't enough, the second half of the show was a full set by Spanish heartthrob Enrique Iglesias. He began his set with the new hit "Subeme La Radio," and it was all that was needed to wake the crowd back up into a frenzy. While not as flashy as his amigo Pit, Enrique took the stage in a simple black shirt with his sleeves rolled up, a pair of comfy cargo pants, and a green canvas hat. He definitely seemed ready to interact with the crowd and move all over the arena, which is a signature move at all of his shows.
This isn't the first time the two Latin superstars have shared a stage together. They were on tour together back in the 2014-15 season, and hit Houston at least twice during that run. They have also made solo runs and even played RodeoHouston during that time frame. The negative side of catching their shows so many times is that their set list and run of show became stale and predictable. Last night was a complete reboot, a much-needed and welcome one. There were new video clips and animation shown on the large video board behind the stage, new tracks to turn into classics, and even new lights and pyrotechnics to spice up the night. One thing they did keep was the confetti cannons, which I admit is always a fabulous gimmick to experience.
Enrique slowed down the pace as he moved toward the back of the arena on the B stage for the tracks "Loco" and "Cuando Me Enamoro." With all the frenzy and screaming fans, it was nice to slow the mood and showcase his velvet vocal cords. I'm sure the couples in the crowd held onto each other just a little bit tighter during this breakdown.
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The night ended with "Hero," "El Perdon," "Bailando" and "I Like It," which is about as perfect a combination of old and new Enrique Iglesias songs as could be. Both he and Pitbull gave us everything Sunday night.
So, How Were the Openers? The Latino boy band CNCO did a fine job last night, especially with their hits "Hey DJ" and "Reggaeton Latino." But local opening act DJ iLL-Set stole the opening show with her expertise on the turntables and vivacious dance moves. The Cubana/Colombiana-American was on fire as she pumped up the crowd with salsa, rap, reggaeton and everything in between. She even gave the crowd a great surprise when she played "Tops Drop" by Fat Pat. With her Cuban flag in hand, she won over the crowd and made a few thousand new fans along the way. It's no wonder that she is one of the featured DJs on Pitbull's Sirius XM Globalization Channel 4 radio station. It's not just a witty name; she really does perform ill sets.