Is he hip-hop? Crunk? Reggaeton? Not only all of the above, but TVT recording rap star Pitbull has been heating up dance floors across the US. Hailing from the 3-0-5, Pitbull has positioned himself with one of today’s top producers (Lil’ Jon) to release whirlwind of hits. Check out this exclusive interview we did with Pitbull as he breaks down his unique style, how he broke into the hip-hop scene, and about touring with 50 Cent and Eminem.
interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: How’d you first get into hip-hop?
Pitbull: What inspired me were albums like Nas “Illmatic’, B.I.G. “Ready to Die”, and Snoop’s “Doggystyle’. I am also influenced by 2 Live Crew, Poison Clan, and Trick. I just started freestyling in the street, battling and making it a hobby and next thing you know, my name started going form school to school, party to party, block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood, and that’s basically how I picked up a name for myself.

WHO?MAG: What is Crunk?
Pitbull: Crunk is music that you get wild to, get loose, and have a good time, wild out in the club. It’s all energy. Speaking of crunk, look out for Crunk Energy Drink by my dog Lil’ Jon. Yes sir!

WHO?MAG: So what distinguishes your music from other artist?
Pitbull: Everyone has a movement of a genre they are involved with; I am involved with a lot of movements. Whether it be crunk, the southern movement, reggaeton movement, Latin movement, whatever it may be. My sound is basically just music. Everyone tries to categorize it and categorize Pitbull, but I just do music at the end of the day.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Lil’ Jon?
Pitbull: I met him in South beach around 2001 through a cat who used to do bass music called Danni D. He heard a record of mine called “Oya” from the “Too Fast Too Furious” Soundtrack and he was like “man, I don’t know what your saying in Spanish, but your ripping it. Come by the studio tomorrow and I’m going to throw you on this ‘Kings of crunk’ album. I didn’t think h was going to do it, but I came through, did my verse, and put it on the album. The album sold 2 million copies. Ever since that, we just been cool. He calls himself my Cuban cousin.

WHO?MAG: How did you get with TVT?
Pitbull: TVT was pretty much through Jon, because every show that Jon did, I pretty much came through and did freestyle at the beginning of the show. A cat named Brian leach, an A&R cat has seen me at every show, selling my CD’s, giving them out, and just hustling, so I came to NY and next thing you know I’m on Hot 97 two days in a row with Kay Slay and DJ envy. He was like “Man, there’s cats in NY who can’t even get on Hot 97. How are you doing this?” He just respected my hustle and my grind. It wasn’t really my music, it was more my grind. That’s basically how I got with TVT.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about the popularity of reggaeton music right now?
Pitbull: It’s a catch 22. It could be a blessing, but at the same time be something that will take away from the movement. I’ll hop on a couple records, but I am not a reggaeton artist. They try to label me the king or ambassador of it, but I don’t want to take that title because there are people who have been doing this for years and it’s there time to shine. It’s their year. I feel if the music doesn’t have a fusion with something else or mutate into something else, it may have already had its peak.

WHO?MAG: How did reggaeton break into America?
Pitbull: It came over from Panama. We have been listening to reggaeton for years. It was always about “killer, killer, we’ll get you at your doorstep, don’t come around the drug spot”. It was violent music. Basically what hip-hop is like. I seen it break when Tego came in Washington Heights about five years ago and the Dominicans picked that up and ran with it. Miami in NY is where it really broke through. Its been climbing little by little ever since, but I think it hit a peak right now.

WHO?MAG: So where does the name Pitbull come from?
Pitbull: I named myself that after the dog basically after watching them fighting. The main reason I call myself that is because pitbulls are too stupid to lose and they go to death for what they believe in. To make it even a more ironic story, they are now banned from Dade County. So I’m the only pitbull legal in Dade County.

WHO?MAG: How was it performing on the Anger Management Tour?
Pitbull: It was an honor, a blessing, and a lesson. I constantly watch and observe cats. Just being out there with Lil’ Jon, Lil’ Scrappy, the whole BME, we were out there clowning getting loose and wild all over the place. You could just see that you can be a prisoner of your success. I had seen that with 50. I had seen that with Eminem. They were already at a level where they seemed like they weren’t enjoying it like they should have been. I learned from that. I never want to be in that position. God bless them and their talents, but DAMN!

WHO?MAG: What’s next up for Pitbull?
Pitbull: What’s next up for Pitbull is the world with God’s help. I am looking at some movie scripts right now. Only God knows, but I know this much, with out the fans, Pitbull ain’t sh*t, so I appreciate the love highly.