Within moments of connecting with Pitbull, it’s apparent how he earned the nickname “Mr. Worldwide.” From collaborating with Latin American upstarts for his forthcoming Spanish-language record Dale to sharing the bill for a July concert with Keith Urban and Nick Jonas, the 34-year-old chart-topping rapper has a keen sense of his music’s global appeal.
“The beautiful thing about music is that it’s a universal language,” Pitbull tells EW. “If people want to categorize it, that’s cool. But I think that these people, to share a stage with them is showing the power of music.”
Perhaps that’s why Pitbull, born Armando Christian Pérez to Cuban parents in Miami, seems to flow effortlessly between No. 1 hits with Kesha, Dale’s young talent (“If I told you the names, you’d be like, ‘What the f—k?’” he quips), and mixed bills like the one with Urban and Jonas planned for the July 19 #PlentiTogether concert in New York. But Pitbull places himself in a more timeless context, evidenced as he waxes poetic about his seven-night Las Vegas residency scheduled for the end of September.
“Vegas was spawned by Havana, Cuba, back in the days when you had guys like Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel to get together and put up the Stardust,” he explains. “I feel like my culture is very deeply rooted in the blossoming of Vegas. It’s beautiful to be there, amongst the amazing names that have been there — Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack. It’s definitely an honor.”
Honor or not, Pitbull plans to bring his usual party vibe to Vegas. “They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” he deadpans. “Well, what happens in Vegas with a Miami guy never happened. The night is going to be called ‘Convenient Amnesia.’”
That cavalier attitude dissipates when the conversation turns to Dale, only the second of Pitbull’s nine studio albums to be recorded entirely in Spanish. “It’s great to see young talent coming up, and to give them an opportunity and a platform to showcase that,” he says, referencing his perceived responsibility toward smaller artists. “It’s also a great learning experience for myself, because you always keep your ear to the ground and it keeps you on your toes.”
That’s why Dale, which takes its name from an acronym Pitbull has popularized on his records meaning “basically having fun with Armando,” epitomizes the rapper’s feel-good persona: “The album is all about great global music that’s an escape for all the negative things that are going on in the world.”