Pitbull NRG Stadium March 13, 2015
"All my white people make some noise!" -- scattered applause) "All my black folks make some noise!" -- somewhat louder) "LA-TI-NOS!!!" -- earth-shaking eruption of cheers that could surely be heard all the way to Miami)
If there's one thing Pitbull knows, it is how to warm up a crowd. With his sly grin and gyrating hips, the Latino megastar has come a long way from the rough and raunchy rapper from Miami that he used to be. Now, with his long list of chart-toppers, endorsements and features, he has truly evolved to become Mr. Worldwide.
Just like every Latino kid, the story of an underdog with a dream is deep at the heart of his development. Sure, the poetry of José Martí may have played a part, as well as the music of fellow Cubanos Celia Cruz and Willie Chirino, but his mentor of choice will always be a certain (fictional) character named Antonio Raimundo "Tony" Montana.
As such, the theme song from the 1983 film Scarface was played alongside a teleprompter-like display of Pitbull's life story on NRG's massive Jumbotron. "From clubs in Little Havana to arenas worldwide, Pitbull is living the American Dream..." were among the words we read as Armando Christian Peréz jumped onto the revolving RodeoHouston stage. Dressed in a black suit and dark shades, the man was ready to love, and dance, and love again in Houston.
"Que comience la fiesta!" was his call for his fans to start the party and keep going as he opened with the track "Don't Stop The Party." Indeed, the energy started high and hardly ever stopped. With a harem of beautiful dancers around him, Pit delved deep into his catalogue, shifting swiftly between every rump-shaker in his arsenal until the dance track "International Love" (featuring Chris Brown) bookended the opening section of the show.
He spoke to the crowd about the hardships he encountered growing up. Apparently, his TV had a wire hanger for an antenna, and it only worked when he stood next to it. But he does remember being inspired by the music videos he saw on the tube, particularly "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa, which inspired the next hit on the set list, "Hey Baby (Drop It to The Floor)." In fact, many of Pitbull's tracks are fun and danceable re-imaginations of older hits, although I assume he credits and pays for the samples, unlike the "Blurred Lines" fiasco currently grabbing news headlines.
Pitbull took time out to give a big shout-out to Bun B, with whom he connected during a pre-show meet-and-greet. He followed by venturing off the dance hits and hitting the Salsa and reggaeton side of his repertoire, starting with a pair of tracks with his buddy Marc Anthony. With the Puerto Rican pop star on the video screen, the duo sung and rapped to "Rain Over Me" and the "Vivir Mi Vida Remix," followed by an empowering percussion solo. "Danza Kuduro" and "Echa Pa'lla (Manos Pa'rriba)" rounded out the liveliest portion of the evening.
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He ended on "Give Me Everything," telling the audience that "[I] took my life from negative to a positive, I just want you to know that. And tonight, let's enjoy life..."
With someone like Pitbull pushing you, everything seems possible. That a kid, any kid, can grow up a dream, mixed with hard work and a little luck, and get what's coming to him. And that just might be the world, and everything in it.
Personal Bias: Pit's 2004 major label debut Money Is a Major Issue was the soundtrack for my mid-twenties.
The Crowd: Muchos Latinos. (Announced attendance: 75,013)
Overheard In the Crowd: "OMG! He took his glasses off! His eyes are so pretty!" "Compared to his teeth, everything is pretty."
Random Notebook Dump: I wonder if he buys new suits after every show? He dances around so much during his set that he is drenched in sweat by the end. It's like a one-hour zumba class each show!
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.
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