I’ve written before about Pitbull, in context of his show from Tuesday at 99.7’s Triple Ho 2.0 show. I wanted to come back and take a closer look at this artist, seeing how he’s found such incredible success and how exactly he made it in the world of music. Armando “Pitbull” Perez is a fascinating guy.

Now 30 years old, Perez was born in January of 1981 in Miami to Cuban immigrants. He was raised by his mother after his father left, and grew up dealing drugs as his father did. This got him kicked out of his mother’s house at 16, and he then lived with a foster family. He graduated from Miami Coral Park High School, already developing as a rapper. His career got started when he was 20, signing to Luther Campbell’s Luke Records in 2001. He was introduced that year to Robert Fernandez, who specialized in developing artists, and after the Luke records deal ended, he and Pitbull started working together to move from more verse-heavy rap to radio-friendly and more catchy. At this period Pitbull recorded between 50 and 70 songs, and it was Fernandez who introduced Pitbull to Lil Jon, hoping to get him a guest spot in the upcoming album Kings of Crunk. Lil Jon took a liking to Pitbull and gave him his own track, which is called “Pitbulls Cuban Ride Out.”

From that first break, Armando Christian Perez got down to business, scoring music in 2002 for “2 Fast 2 Furious,” called “Oye.” Two years later, in 2004 he dropped his debut album, “M.I.A.M.I.” The lead single, “Culo,” was produced by Lil Jon and the Diaz Brothers, and peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, an incredible entry for a debut album. Pitbull was added to Eminem’s Anger Management Tour. He was still fighting to make it, though, as a legal dispute between two record companies in 2005 held up some of his early recordings. His label at the time, TVT Records, had to fight for two years in a case against Pitbulls former label, Slip-N-Slide Records. The album, “Welcome to the 305,” was eventually released by Slip-N-Slide, and TVT was ordered to pay Pitbull’s early label $9.1 million.

His ride to the top continued, and in 2006 Pitbull made his second album, El Mariel, the title of which references Scarface. This album was dedicated to his late father, and marked a point where Pitbull filled out his albums with some more political tracks in addition to his party offerings. El Mariel peaked on the Billboard independent albums chart at #13. The next year had ups and down for Pitbull - his variety show, Pitbull’s La Esquina debuted, his third album, Boatlift came out with a collection of hit singles, but Pitbull was also arrested in December for drunk driving. He posted bail and pleaded not guilty, and was later acquitted.

Pitbull’s huge breakthrough came, then, in 2009 with the release of his third album, Rebelution, and a decade of hard work. The single “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” blew up, and since then Pitbull’s been working the global stage without missing a beat. The latest single, “Give Me Everything,” from his 2011 album Planet Pit, was his first to hit the #1 spot on Billboard’s Top 100. For all the work he’s done on his rise to the top, Pitbull deserves every ounce of recognition that he’s received.

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