Album Review: Pitbull takes on the world with 'Planet Pit'
It’s understandable that Pitbull, who calls his new album “Planet Pit,” would think it’s his world and the rest of us just live here. In addition to his massive hit “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” he’s been the go-to guest of choice for artist after artist, including Enrique Iglesias on his comeback track, “I Like It”; Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love,” and Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor.”
Now with his sixth studio album, and first since last year’s Spanish-language “Armando,” the Cuban-American rapper has made a non-stop party set that is chock-full of potential hits. Though primarily in English, “Planet Pit,” out June 21, compellingly draws upon Latin and Island beats to prove Pit’s point that he’s worldwide. It’s not just wish fulfillment that he wants to go from “Mr. 305,” (the area code for his Miami hometown) to “Mr Worldwide,” as he frequently calls himself.
What works exceedingly well for Pitbull —not that it’s a new concept— is blending his gruff raps, which he often delivers with tantalizing speed — with silky vocals. It’s a winning combo on the jubilant “Rain Over Me” (not to ever be confused with the Who classic, “Reign O’er Me”) featuring Marc Anthony’s oh-so-velvety tones or on current single and summer hit “Give Me Everything” with Ne-Yo crooning persuasive lines from “the world might end so sleep with me now” school. Throw in his melange of Latin rhythms, best displayed on electro-pop track “Shake Senora” featuring T-Pain and Sean Paul) and Pitbull’s distinctive freestyle and it’s a formula that escapes monotony despite a certain amount of repetition.
Pitbull has the rapper’s usual swagger— though he’s not afraid to throw his vulnerable side on “Took My Love” featuring Red Foo, Vein and David Rush. He’s never mean or misogynistic. Nothing lyrically here would warrant anything courser than a PG-13, but it never feels like he held back to give the tunes a broader appeal.
On “Come N Go,” produced by Dr. Luke and Benny Bianco and Max Martin, he gets to the point: “Mama, you’re the internet and I’m looking for a download,” if you get his drift and we’re sure you do. The robotic track sounds like a less-frenetic Black Eyed Peas tune--and that’s a good thing.
“Pause,” with its electro beat, Latin drums, and ... pauses.... is irresistible. Who can help but smile at Pitbull, on the only song that doesn’t feature guest, delivers some proclamations as “I’m such a dirty dog/ My teeth will unsnap your bra.”
Pitbull keeps the mood light throughout with the exception of the touching, autobiographical “Castle in the Sand.” It’s a mid-tempo tale, propelled by a rat-a-tat military beat, about making it despite daunting odds (thanks to his mama) and surrounded by a haunting refrain delivered by Kelly Rowland. In a rare switch, the story rather than the beats drives this tune.
Not everything works: mid-tempo “International Love,” featuring Chris Brown, is a call-out to the girls of the world and what makes each one special. While fine, it doesn’t have the undeniability of the club bangers and sounds rote, especially on repeat listenings.
But that’s a small quibble for an album that is meant to help make good times great by providing a soundtrack that will provoke a smile and a memory every time the song plays. That’s something the whole world wants.