Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN connect with international superstar Pitbull for tons of laughs, the backstory to his rise to fame and all that he’s overcome along the way. A native of Miami, the artist’s entrance to the music industry came via Uncle Luke, who signed the fledgling rapper to his first record deal. However, after parting ways with the label, Pitbull came to prominence following collaborations with the likes of Lil Jon, who produced the rapper’s first hit single, “Culo,” from his gold certified debut album, M.I.A.M.I. In the subsequent years, he would begin to experiment with other genres, particularly world music, rebranding himself as a pop music sensation and one of the premier hitmakers and performers in all of music. In the past decade, the rapper has become a household name with nearly a dozen studio albums and countless hit records to his credit.
To help give fans a recap of the episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from part two of the Pitbull “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
1. Pitbull On Falling In Love With Performing
When explaining where he gets his ostentatious fashion sense from, Pitbull gives insight into how his love for performing was tied to the liberation of Cubans during the reign of Fidel Castro. “When I lived in Little Havana during the ‘80s, it was after the Merial Boatlift,” he shares. “If you watch Scarface, the beginning, the Manolitos were coming in. My father brought over three boats during the Mariel Boatlift, 540 people from Cuba to the United States. And he would put me at Lil Havana, at the bars, he’d put me up there [and] he’d make me do Jose Marti poems. Jose Marti is someone we look up to, all the Cubans do, and it was all about freedom and fighting and dying for the honor of freedom, and they would lose their fucking minds in there. That’s when I figured out words were that powerful.”
2. On His Connection With DJ EFN and New Yorkers Showing Love To Miami
As a Miami native who came up in the area’s local rap scene, Pitbull’s familiarity with DJ EFN dates back to the ‘90s, when the latter was one of the hottest mixtape and party DJs in the city. Pitbull pays homage to DJ EFN’s Crazy Hood collective, as well as New York rap artists, with helping inspire him. “This is one of my old neighborhoods even though it’s a different neighborhood now,” Pitbull says of the “Drink Champs” studio location. “I grew up at a time, looking up to everything that everyone was doing on your side [N.O.R.E.], EFN and the whole Crazy Hood... what they were doing. I would work hard to get on the mixtapes, I saw everything that they were doing. And to be a Miami boy at that time when nobody really believed in Miami, and y’all know what the fuck I’m talking about, but you were one of the ones that showed love. Fat Joe showed love, Wyclef would come down and show love especially in this neighborhood right here.”
3. Pitbull On His Legal Battle With Lindsay Lohan
As one of the most successful entertainers on the planet, Pitbull has rubbed shoulders with Hollywood’s elite. However, his experience dealing with Lindsay Lohan and her legal team is one that nearly took a turn for the worse when the rapper was sued for referencing her by name in a song. “Got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan,” Pitbull says of the line that led to him finding himself in the movie star’s crosshairs. “So what happens is, they sued some internet company at the time or milk company for something for utilizing Lindsay Lohan’s brand and that was an undisclosed whatever it is. And when she stepped to us with that. What I really did, I said, ‘First of all, let me invite you to the music awards, MTV Music Awards. We’ll go together.’ And then after, when we put these certain attorneys on the game, they figured their attorneys were plagiarizing the whole game and they were just grabbing certain cases, and putting it on certain things. And we told them, ‘Well, look, if you wanna go to court with this, this could be a lot of fun.’”
4. Pitbull On The Origin of His Rap Name
When asked about how he got his rap moniker, Pitbull credits a childhood friend with adorning him with the name, which he says stemmed from his ferocity as a hungry lyricist. “At that time, when we were freestyling, I went to a lot of different high schools,” he recalls. “At that time, I had the braids to the back and I would battle four different guys at the same time and then they’d battle me. I was very blessed living in so many neighborhoods in Miami. I had, let’s say for a lack of better words, I had a lot of content. I had a lot of ways to flip different things I could flip Patois, Creole on ‘em, Spanish on ‘em. Different neighborhoods from Black neighborhoods, they would call different things different things. It was just so many ways to flip shit that you would kill ‘em if that’s the only neighborhood they grew up in. So, therefore, Junior turns to me. He’s like, ‘Hey, man, that’s your name, Pitbull, [I said] ‘I kinda like that.’ So when I started to study what the breed is — the breed, for one, is a stereotype. Everybody think a pit is a bad thing especially in Dade County. It’s outlawed, you can’t have pitbulls. Another thing, it bites, it locks, doesn’t let go ‘til it takes care of business and it fights to the death. It’s too stupid to lose. It don’t understand what lose is, it just understands fight, fight, fight. So, you apply that to the game, you apply that to life, you apply that to everything we got going on. That’s basically what it’s become.”
5. Pitbull On Uncle Luke’s Influence On His Career And The City of Miami
Prior to becoming a global sensation, Pitbull paid his dues while under the tutelage of rap legend and fellow Miami native Uncle Luke, whom he signed his first record deal with during the early aughts. “Luke was the one that put us on the game,” he begins. “I wouldn’t be here without Luke. I think a lot of us wouldn’t be here without Luke. That’s the king of Miami. And Luke was the one that taught me the independent grind, the independent hustle. A lot of people don’t see it that way, but Luke fought the fucking Supreme Court and won for the first amendment. So, none of us would be talking the shit right now if it wasn’t for Luke. The U.N. would not be the U.N. without Luke. The Heat, Dolphins, anything that moves through Miami, at a certain time, had to come through Uncle Luke.”
6. Pitbull On Learning The Power Of Independence From TVT Records
After parting ways with Uncle Luke, Pitbull inked a new deal with TVT Records and released his debut album, M.I.A.M.I., on the label in 2004. However, his dealings with the label’s CEO, Steve Gottlieb, helped further educate him on the inner-workings of the music business. “He’s a Harvard grad,” Pitbull says of his former label boss. “I look at Steve Gottlieb as the [Fidel] Castro of the music industry, a genius for all the wrong reasons. So, I learned a lot from that world... When we were at TVT [Records], we were knocking these motherfuckers out the park. Independently, I had an album at that time. M.I.A.M.I. sold 750,000 albums. That doesn’t mean necessarily that I ate off that. But, I did eat off that journey. I got a chance, independently, to see how to break shit down.”
7. Pitbull On Investing In Latin American Startups
During their conversation, Pitbull delved into one of his newest endeavors, which finds him assisting Latin startups by investing in them. “We’re a part of Emerge America,” he explains, “which is all of the startups coming out of Latin America that were all shut down in Silicon Alley, Silicon Valley, Silicon Paradise. But here, we’ve given them a platform. We’ve had that for eight years with a partner of mine and it’s been great for us to be honest with you. And we’ve created, I think, two unicorn companies, meaning companies that are worth more than a billion dollars.”
8. Pitbull On His Forthcoming Virtual Concert
Pitbull’s ability to put on a show for his fans has been greatly hindered with the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering the live entertainment industry. However, the rap vet has a few tricks up his sleeve to reconnect with his fanbase sooner than later, one of them being a live show via pay-per-view. “It’s gonna be a virtual concert. It won’t be a livestream, it’s something that we prerecorded. It’s a pay-per-view, the live stream is something else that I’m working on with somebody else.”
9. Pitbull On The COVID-19 Pandemic
One topic Pitbull touched upon during this episode was the national shutdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he compared to the beginnings of communism in Cuba. “A virus, that’s what we’re talking about,” he says. “SARS, MERS, Bird, Swine, Ebola, now Corona. Like, come on, folks, you gotta really read the tealeaves, bro. The devil’s in the details and with that said is, if you look at the recovery numbers on what we talking about, I don’t know what it is, but I guess the flu went on vacation on this year. Heart attacks went on vacation this year, everything went on vacation this year when it came to what we’re going through right now. Let’s just call a spade a spade. And the reason I can have this conversation is because my family comes from communism, they fled communism. They had everything taken away from them, everybody got murdered, everybody got killed. And that’s the reason me, being first generation Cuban-American, I look at freedom and I appreciate that shit.”