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Last Night: Pitbull at Reliant Stadium

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Pitbull Reliant Stadium March 14, 2013

Pitbull, for those of you who don't know, used to be a rapper. In fact, he was a pretty good one. In the early 2000s, he even joined the Anger Management tour alongside Eminem and 50 Cent, performing crass hits like "Dammit Man," "Back Up" and "Culo" off his debut album, M.I.A.M.I.

He was never phenomenal, but M.I.A.M.I. showed potential.

These days, however, he's more of a hype man than anything else, a Flavor Flav without a Chuck D to validate his presence in the music industry. He's on his suit and tie shit now, too... And it's not fitting.

Commercially, it was the best decision Pitbull could have ever made. His album sales, Bud Light endorsement and the crowd of 75,217 people at Reliant Stadium last night (the second-largest in RodeoHouston history) was proof of as much, but it doesn't change the fact that the music he's putting out now is just terrible.

And truthfully, it might be better without him.

Pitbull's performance involved awkwardly shaking his hips, rolling imaginary dice in his hand, sweating profusely and occasionally causing pandemonium in the crowd by speaking en Español. But the most memorable (and musical) instances of the evening didn't involve him at all.

The backing tracks and beats, his backing band and the musical guests who were shown on the screens overhead Early on in the show dwarfed Pitbull's own activity. And had the same cameras not occasionally flashed back to him as shouted "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" roughly 300 times during musical breaks, I would have forgotten he was even there.

No matter how many hits he releases that top the iTunes charts -- to name a few, "Rain Over Me," "Don't Stop the Party," "I Know You Want Me" and Thursday night's closer "Give Me Everything" -- his is still just fleeting club music that teenagers download before road trips and twentysomethings dance to (poorly) before they wake up with hangovers, regretting the previous night's decision.

Truthfully, I can't judge the guy, really. Financially, it was the smart move to make. And maybe he's got some serious bills I don't know about, or perhaps there was some family emergency that called for a quick influx of cash.

But I'll stick with his classics, if you can even call them that, off that debut album. Because I still have fond memories of laughing and bobbing my head back and forth to M.I.A.M.I., and I was excited about a new voice in the rap industry. His raspy vocals had just enough depth to make it to the airwaves; his beats and hooks were catchy; and his lyricism was Southern but had a perspective I hadn't heard before.

Unfortunately, he isn't a rapper anymore. And instead of putting out tracks with the likes of Bun B ("Dirty"), he's collaborating with Chris Brown ("International Love").

Dammit, man.

Personal Bias: I enjoyed the fireworks.

Overheard in the Crowd: Lots of chanting along.

Mutton Bustin': The most entertaining part of Thursday night.


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