In 2016 Drake might be Hip Hop’s favorite global artist, but the argument can be made Pitbull clearly had the title years before.

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While “Mr. Worldwide” has strayed much further than his Canadian counterpart from rap in terms of sound and scope, Pitbull as a performer is still rooted in the Hip Hop ethos he started his glittering career with. He proved this last night [Saturday, May 28] during a frenzied show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for Memorial Day Weekend.

After an opening act from reggaeton artist Mark B (whose set included Spanish language trap songs) to a mixed crowd of sunburned tourists and locals, Pitbull took the stage at the luxury Caribbean resort with the same enthusiasm as a stadium performance. The rapper opened the show with his personal history playing out on two big screens (with Phil Collins‘ “In The Air” as soundtrack), touching on the difficulties of growing up in Miami as a child of Cuban immigrants in the 1980s. With a slew of hits to keep an audience on its feet from start to finish, Pitbull and his sweat-soaked button-up shirt (and myriad of sexy female dancers) ran through major numbers like “Don’t Stop The Party,” “International Love” and “Timber” while interpolating classic rock hits such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Pretty Woman” in between.



While that doesn’t sound like the most rap-leaning of sequences, the artist born Armando Pérez never lets you forget where his roots are and when “Shake,” his 2005 hit with the Ying Yang Twins arrived halfway through his set, the multi-generational, multicultural crowd lost its mind. Sure, Pit’s much more comfortable nowadays effecting gleeful hip gyrations in a tailored suit than the tough young man we first met rocking cornrows in the neighborhoods of M-I-Yay-O, but recognizing how Hip Hop has shaped him into the artist he is today is clearly evident. And while tracks like “I Know You Want Me” and his original breakout hit, “Culo” featuring Lil Jon might always raise the ire of traditional rap fans, they’ll forever be some of Hip Hop’s best party starters.

Whether it’s “I Just Wanna Feel This Moment” featuring Cristina Aguilera or “Give Me Everything,” his first number one Billboard single featuring Ne-Yo, Pitbull has mastered being both simultaneously prominent as the rapper on a big record while also playing to its pop sensibilities. He’s the consummate artist who gives his everything during every single performance (his pure joy on-stage is enough for the ticket price alone) and Hip Hop should be proud of the evolution this rapper has made into the truly formidable international star he is today.

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