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Pitbull: Biography of the Cuban-American Rapper

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born January 15th, 1981 in Miami, Florida, Pitbull was born to Cuban parents and started rapping as a teen. He began appearing on other hip hop artists' albums and released his top twenty debut in 2004. His early solo success was increased by his collaborations with other acts. The rapper soon became known for mixing his Latin flavor with hip hop and dance music. In 2011, Pitbull reached the top ten with his album "Planet Pit" and had his first number one single. In this video, we take a look at the life and career of Pitbull.

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Growing Up

Armando Christian Pérez was born January 15th, 1981 in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrant parents. His parents split when he was young, and as a result, he was brought up by his mother and spent time with a foster family. During his teenage years, he began rapping and started dealing drugs.

Luke Records

After high school, he became more involved in the hip hop scene and appeared on several mixtapes. Also around this time, he adopted the moniker Pitbull. In 2001, he signed with Luke Records, and appeared on an album by the label’s founder, Luther Campbell, called Somethin’ Nasty.

Lil Jon

But the record deal soon ended. Fortunately, he had been introduced to Lil Jon, and he gave Pitbull the chance to show off his free-styling skills on the 2002 record Kings of Crunk.


After contributing to the “2 Fast 2 Furious” movie soundtrack, Pitbull dropped his full-length debut in 2004. M.I.A.M.I. was a crunk and reggaeton disc released via TVT Records that charted within the top twenty of the Billboard 200. Lil Jon co-produced the album, and appeared on its first single: “Culo.”


Pitbull soon began touring and teaming up with other artists. Most notably, he joined the Anger Management Tour alongside Lil Jon and Eminem. His raps were also featured on albums by the Ying Yang Twins and Twista. 2005 saw the release of the remix album Money Is Still a Major Issue. That same year, Slip-N-Slide Records dropped Welcome to the 305, which was an album Pitbull had recorded with the label in 2001.

Second Album

Pitbull’s sophomore effort was 2006’s El Mariel. Musically, the CD was similar to his first album. Lyrically, Pitbull’s typical songs about women and partying were present but so were some politically-minded tunes. It charted within the Billboard 200’s top twenty and yielded several singles. That same year, a Spanish version of the disc was released. Pitbull also continued to record with other acts.

Television and Third Record

In 2007, he premiered the reality series “Pitbull’s La Esquina” and released The Boatlift. That record featured collaborations with numerous performers and spawned singles like “Go Girl” and “The Anthem.”


Pitbull had his most successful effort yet with 2009’s Rebelution, which was released via Ultra Records. The record mixed hip hop and dance music and charted within the Billboard 200 top ten. It generated several charting singles, including the sample-heavy “Hotel Room Service.” But Rebelution’s highest charting track was “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” which hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top ten of many other charts worldwide.


Pitbull brought his Latin flavour and raucous live shows to tour dates across the globe. Also in 2009, Pitbull signed with Polo Grounds Music and was given the Key to the City of Miami.

Successful Guest Appearances

The next year, Pitbull once again guested on numerous tracks. In particular, he lent his vocals to Enrique Iglesias’ “I Like It” and Usher’s “DJ Got US Fallin’ In Love,” and these songs proved very successful for their respective artists.

All-Spanish Language Album

A few months later, the all-Spanish Armando came out. The effort comprised the single “Bon, Bon” and earned Pitbull several nominations at the Latin Billboard Awards.

First Number One Single

Planet Pit arrived in 2011. The disc was a combination of raps and beats with Latin influences, as well as genres like hip hop, dancehall and electronic music. The top ten album contained musical collaborations with Marc Anthony, Chris Brown, T-Pain and more. It also produced Pitbull’s first number one on the Billboard Hot 100: “Give Me Everything.”

More Collaborations

That same year, Pitbull appeared on several songs by other acts, including Enrique Iglesias and Shakira. His most successful was the number three single “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez.

Business Pursuits and International Fame

In addition to being a rapper, songwriter and producer, Pitbull founded the label Mr. 305 Inc. and became a spokesman for Voli Vodka. Thanks to his blend of hip hop, dance music and Latin-flavored rhythms, he has found chart success. And with his charming ways, energetic live shows and infectious hooks, Pitbull will surely continue to win “International Love” for his music.

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