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Armando Perez, aka Pitbull, Up For Latin Billboard


Some of the hottest artists in Latin music are in Miami this week for the Billboard Latin Music Conference and Awards. The conference celebrates the most popular musicians and business innovators in Latin music. Now, if you are not an expert on Latin music, do not worry. Here to guide us, Jasmine Garsd, co-host of NPR's podcast, Alt.Latino. She will be with us all this week to tell us which artists to keep our eyes and ears on.

Jasmine, thanks for joining us once again.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: Yesterday, we talked about Romeo Santos. He is nominated for Artist of the Year. But who else are you going to tell us about today?

GARSD: Well, today I want to talk about another big hitter who's nominated for a whole lot of categories, Cuban-American rapper Pitbull. Now, unless you've been living under a rock, Pitbull is everywhere. He's ubiquitous. I actually saw a really funny Facebook post the other day, some guy saying, I'm afraid to sing in the shower because I'm worried Pitbull will step in and remix me.


MARTIN: I can see. He's in ads. He is everywhere.

GARSD: Kodak. Budweiser. He's with Dr. Pepper. And he is a really interesting story. He released "Planet Pit" last year. It debuted as number seven in the Billboard 100. And Pitbull has really emerged from a crunk persona of Southern rap to a global pop rap star. And he himself had said that he had all the strikes against him in the world of rap. He's Cuban-American, he's from the South, he's white, blue-eyed guy. Not exactly what is predominant in the world of rap right now. So this is his most successful album yet. His single "Give Me Everything" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.


MARTIN: Very tasteful.


MARTIN: And also I want to mention that there is R&B artist Ne-Yo is also collaborating with him on "Give Me Everything." You might have heard a little bit of him there.

GARSD: Yeah. And Pitbull collaborated with everyone. He was with David Guetta. David Guetta produced some of this album. He collaborated...

MARTIN: Marc Anthony.

GARSD: Marc Anthony and J. Lo got joint custody of him.



GARSD: He collaborated with Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, T-Pain, and he's working on something with Shakira, apparently.

MARTIN: Yeah, but, you know, he's been around for a while, for people who, you know, follow rap. Why do you think he's blowing up now?

GARSD: I think it's a combination of things. I do believe people is an amazingly hard working man. I don't even know when he sleeps and you can't possibly put out those many singles and collaborations and remixes without just being, having an amazing work ethic. I also think Pitbull is an interesting story about the complexity of Latin identity in the United States. Like I said, he is a Cuban-American kid. His parents were Cuban. They made him recite a poet, Cuban poet Jose Marti, when he was growing up. He had a lot of problems with the law. Like I said, you know, white, blue-eyed, Cuban guy, didn't really fit into maybe the stereotypical vision of what Hispanics are in this country. And maybe the U.S. is ready for that.

MARTIN: Pitbull is up against another artist, Don Omar, who has two songs nominated for Song of the Year, "Taboo" and "Danza Kuduro." Why do you think Pitbull has an edge over his competition? How do you call it?

GARSD: Oh, Pitbull. I feel bad 'cause I really like Don Omar. I think he's a cutie. But Pitbull was everywhere. I mean Pitbull is inescapable, whether you like it or not.

MARTIN: Well, we'll see. Jasmine Garsd is the co-host of NPR's podcast Alt.Latino. She joined us once again in our studios in Washington, D.C. Thanks so much for stopping in once again.

GARSD: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: And here is Pitbull performing "International Love," featuring R&B artist Chris Brown.


MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INTERNATIONAL LOVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.