Pitbull's newest CD, El Mariel, includes lines like "Welcome to the real Dade County/ Where we're soldiers from birth to the hearse/That's why my childhood included a bulletproof vest," and "Welcome to the real Miami/Where we live to die." Typical rapper throwdown boasts, yes, but that's the only thing typical about El Mariel. Cuban-American Pitbull mixes English and Spanish lyrics, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and hard-hitting hip-hop beats.

The album has several stand-out tunes, such as "Jealouso" (a mix of the words jealous and celoso, Spanish for jealous). Pharrell, who is also featured, co-wrote the track. It begins with just Pitbull and some bongos; a tambourine, more percussion instruments, and singers come in as the beat builds to a thumping crescendo that commands listeners to dance.

Another highlight is the slightly more laid-back but equally infectious "Que Tu Sabes d'Eso" ("What Do You Know About That"), featuring Fat Joe and Sinful. (Other guest artists on El Mariel include Wyclef, Lil Jon, and the Ying Yang Twins.) Fans of old-school (no, really old old-school) will enjoy the taste of Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe on "Come See Me," which includes a sample of their hit "La Murga de Panama."

If you don't know what the title El Mariel refers to, don't worry: Pitbull includes a couple of musical history lessons, including one that compares the Mariel Boatlift to the "Katrina Buslift." — Olivia Flores Alvarez

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Olivia Flores Alvarez