Like a bright yellow Hummer in a sea of gray Priuses, there’s nothing subtle about Pitbull.
Propelled by raw talent and a whole lot of moxie, the former reggaeton artist has emerged as one of the most successful crossover stars around — selling over 5 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide — despite a seemingly bottomless collection of shiny dress shirts and bad suits. (Poor Marc Anthony.)
His eighth album, “Globalization,” continues the Cuban American rapper’s successful formula of mixing salsa with hip-hop, hip-hop with EDM, EDM with pop, and all of it with a cocky sense of humor and some of the worst pickup lines ever.
“She on the rebound, broke up with her ex, I’m like Rodman, ready on deck,” he raps on his new album, one of many tracks on “Globalization” that demonstrate Pitbull will do just about anything to get with you (and widen his fan base).
And it’s working. The self-proclaimed “Mr. Worldwide” (it’s catchier than his given name, Armando Christian Pérez) is everywhere: working with JLo and Kesha, hosting the American Music Awards over the weekend and co-writing and performing the recent World Cup anthem.
And if there’s an outlet where the Miami-based Pitbull hasn’t been yet, he will be there soon. That means co-hosting and performing on “The View” and — hide the kids — dropping a tune in DreamWorks’ forthcoming “Penguins of Madagascar.”
So why all the love for a guy who seems so unlovable?
He surrounds himself with teams of hit-making producers (Max Martin had his hands in “Globalization”) but makes the sound his own with Latin influences and his own gruff energy. The result is club anthems like “Fireball,” his third single off the new album. It’s one of many Pitbull songs that are so over-the-top catchy they dare you not to dance, be it at that cheesy club your friend dragged you to or alone and behind closed doors, far from the judgmental gaze of your Radiohead-loving peers.
On “Globalization” — not to be confused with his previous worldly themed efforts “Global Warming: Meltdown” and “Planet Pit” — Pitbull includes more club-minded songs and a wide cast of characters. For “Ah Leke,” he teams up with everyone’s favorite sidekick, Sean Paul, on an infectious, dance hall-meets-EDM number that finds Pitbull once again offering himself up via a 2 a.m. bar-is-closing mantra: “All the ladies, when you’re ready let me know.”
Chris Brown joins Pitbull for “Fun,” a more straight-ahead upbeat R&B dance tune fueled by Latin beats and instrumentation. It’s places like this where a crack production team and insane energy levels pay off, making what could sound tired and familiar (how many times can we hear Brown’s voice against sappy slow jams) sharp and lively.
Though tempos shift and guests add up (Jason Derulo, Ne-Yo), every song is connected by the rapper’s gravelly voice, so-stupid-they’re-great lyrics and banshee howls.
And lest anyone be left out, there’s something here for the kids too in this otherwise booty-laden fare. “Celebrate” is Pitbull’s bouncy “Penguins of Madagascar” theme, based on Rare Earth’s “I Just Want to Celebrate.” Sure, it’s OK, but can a zebra dance to it? It’s no “I Like to Move It.”
Songs like “Sexy Beaches” and “Day Drinking” are the weakest. But they will be played by vacationers worldwide thanks to universal idiot-in-paradise refrains such as “Day drinkin’, sun goes up and drink goes down, ooh, ooh.” And that World Cup Anthem, “We Are One (Ole Ola),” is still as lame as the day it was performed in Brazil.
There are 11 songs in all, not as many songs here as you’d think from someone as prolific and ever-present as Pitbull, but when you figure he’s out there on a billion more tracks by himself and other artists, does he really need to pack his own album with his A1 work?
Besides, he’s likely holding onto his best mojito-slugging material for the next round, waiting for some other club artist to disappoint so he can catch you on the rebound.