By Kat Bein
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By Jacob Katel
By Michael E. Miller
Pitbull will be everywhere this Memorial Day weekend, rocking shows, selling copies of his new mix CD Unleashed Vol. 3, rolling around in a wraparound van bearing his face with manager Big Teach, and slowly burrowing his way into the hip-hop consciousness. It will be a neverending media onslaught that has nothing to do with artistry. Indeed he's more concerned with entertaining people, earning respect for his talent as a rapper, and building a successful recording career than pleasing music critics (pejoratively referred to as "haters"). It's something like a nine-to-five job, except that he's self-employed and enjoys what he's doing. Groupies and money are major issues, but they're the products of his grind, his single-minded focus toward locking down the rap market.
As a result of his hard work, though, Pitbull has the expectations of a city patiently waiting to blow on his shoulders. Thanks to Lil' Jon, who is executive-producing Pitbull's album along with the Diaz Bros., it looks like M.I.A.M.I.might drop before Jacki-O's debut for TVT and Dirtbag's debut for Jive, making him the first new Miami hip-hopper with a nationally distributed album since the Iconz put out "Get Crunked Up" three years ago.
Mederos says that Pitbull is different from those artists. Unlike Trick Daddy, 2 Live Crew, or Trina, he's not a flamboyant thug or a scandalous sex merchant; his primary appeal is pure lyrical talent. That's why the record industry is closely watching him. It wants to see if this MC from the rapidly maturing Miami hip-hop scene can make it in the rap game with no gimmicks and no pop hooks. "My gimmick is my grind, my hustle," says Pitbull. But will the Cuban upstart, who is about to shop his "Culo!" video (filmed during a raucous celebration at the Calle Ocho street festival last March) to cable channels across the country, prove too grimy for MTV?
"I think Miami is expecting a lot from Pit because he's the first artist to represent Miami," says Mederos. "If Pit does good, there might be a lot more [record] deals for artists down here."