Big Pun once said, “Latin going platinum/ It was destined to come.” The late Bronx emcee was the first solo Latino rapper to reach this goal, with his 1998 debut, Capital Punishment, and it has largely remained a lofty dream for Latino hip-hop artists. But with Latinos overtaking blacks as the largest minority in the United States, corporate America is looking to brush up on its español. If you think hip-hop has been turned out, just wait until they start pimping reggaeton and Latin rap music. At this point, it’s not a question of when; it’s a question of who will lead the movement.
The odds-on favorite would be Miami rapper Pitbull and his hip-hop/reggaeton combo, cosigned by the none other than King of Crunkdom, Lil’ Jon. Pitbull’s 2004 debut, M.I.A.M.I., went gold, largely due to the strength of rump-convulsing stripper jams “Culo,” “Dammit Man” and “Toma.” With his sophomore effort, El Mariel, slated for a 2006 release, independent juggernaut TVT Records is hoping to bridge the gap between albums with this remix album and DVD, cleverly titled (and just in case you forgot) Money Is Still a Major Issue. But for all its promise, the record simply fails to deliver.
Largely aimed at hardcore Pitbull fans, Money Is Still a Major Issue contains B-sides and remixes with C-list all-stars Pretty Ricky, Wayne Marshall and Nina Sky. On “Everybody Gets Up,” Pretty Ricky’s prepubescent generic rhymes are empty filler that do little to elevate Jim Jonson’s characterless beat. “Might Be the Police” is fool’s gold. It lulled me into a false sense of security, but it’s a standard track about the trap and other drug dealings, topped off by a beat that is a straight jack of the Clipse’s “Grindin’.”
The failures of Money Is Still a Major Issue are not an indictment of Pitbull’s skills, but rather his choices of features and production. With the ability to rhyme in Spanish and English, Pitbull has the potential not only to sell big in the States, but also to collect those foreign dollars in South America and in Europe. Pitbull’s music is what it what is: club music for the masses trying to bring Miami to your living room speakers. Beyond the obvious limitations of Pitbull’s music and Money Is Still a Major Issue, this Latin going platinum is still destined to come.
Music Video for “Shake”