Just so you know what you're getting into, Pitbull (with the help of Akon) warns that he is not Mr. Right, but he can be Mr. Right Now. I think that is very polite! Here are some things that Mr. Right Now aka Mr. Worldwide will to do you (but, I'm guessing, only if you want):
- Make you his queen
- Love you "endless" [sic]
- Make sure your peach feels peachy
- Steal your heart
- Play night and day
- Unsnap your bra (with his teeth)
- Hit the spot (ding, ding, ding)
- Pop your clutch
Pitbull's sixth full-length, Planet Pit, is the most respectful bit of extended lewdness that I've ever experienced. His sexual prowess is based on how much pleasure he can provoke. After listening to him go on for an hour, I have no sense of this man's penis or even his own preferences because they are, per his on-record character, dependent on the taste of the woman he's inevitably trying to please. The wildest he gets is when he engages in the occasional threesome, but that's ultimately the product of an open mind ("Other girls want my girl, and I think that's cool"). He's so giving that he's practically a bottom. He makes me swoon.
I'm not the target audience for his come-ons, but his voice, the way purrs and then pinches into a scratch, is the sexiest in music today. It's the larynx's answer to squinting eyes. That it might flip into Spanish makes it even sexier. I do not mean to exoticize this Cuban American -- I only mean to say that his calculated seduction hits the spot, ding, ding, ding. (I do realize that his Lothario character could just be playing a character to woo women with counterfeit compassion.) That he surrounds himself with those prone to flights of fancy (Ne-Yo doing some sweet-booty crooning on the lovable "Give Me Everything," Marc Anthony going to freestyle levels of drama on "Rain Over Me," Chris Brown straining while delivering what amounts to a jingle on "International Love") is somewhat like a moderately attractive woman deliberately choosing homely friends -- maybe it's cheap, but the effect only makes him look better.
As a whole, Planet Pit is as ravishing as its star. It's mostly house with some outer genre flourishes (merengue, Beetle Juice among them), but its uncomplicated percussion designs remind me of '08 and '09, when house was just starting to penetrate pop music again, and sounded accordingly naive and tentative (instead of blowing you out with brick waveforms and crunching polyrhythms, as it does now all over Top 40 radio). Save some bongo fluttering, Pit's tracks star the stomp and the beats are as satisfying as really great 25-cent rubber balls you buy at the supermarket. (The sole freestyle oriented track, "Where Do We Go," which was unexpectedly, bizarrely produced by '90s house god Marc Kinchen, is excepted.) As opposed to so many other contemporary pop-house tracks, Pit doesn't belabor club talk (in fact, the only person to set such a scene explicitly is one of the guests on "Took My Love" -- Vein, perhaps?). That he is in the club is inevitable, either because he's been there for a while now or when you're having as great of a time as he is, the world is your club (and he has, per constant reminders, gone global).
Besides, Planet Pit is mostly about private matters, and I love the idea of house music as sex music. It's insistent and at a much more exciting tempo than, say, "You Are My Lady" (not that "You Are My Lady" isn't wonderful however you want to use it). It's also a way of making house more matter-of-fact than the bottle-service propaganda it so often tends to be. You don't have to mention the club to get played in one, and that Pitbull realizes that makes him sound smarter than so many of his contemporaries. Strange but true!
In last week's New York Times review, Jon Caramanica wrote that Planet Pit "suggests the full-fledged arrival of a new strain of hip-house." The thought crossed my mind, as well, although serious hip-house artists like those on DJ International were serious about hip-house and Pitbull is kind of a clown. Yes, his voice is great and many of his lines are impressively dumb clever ("Mami, you the Internet / And I'm lookin' for a download"), but he's having too much fun to settle down (god help you when he does and pukes out the "Airplanes" rip-off "Castle Made of Sand" alongside Kelly Rowland). Often lasting only as long as 8 bars and doing much of his own hyping ("Now go, stop, drop, pause..." he moans on the brilliantly literal "Pause"), he seems more like the best house music guest rapper of all time (my favs are those on "Finally" and "Too Blind to See It"). Or maybe he puts Snap, Black Box, Culture Beat, Captain Hollywood Project, et. al., to shame and emerges as the best Eurohouse rapper of all time. That would, after all, be pretty worldwide of him.