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Pitbull

El Mariel

El Mariel cover

The title of rapper Pitbull's sophomore release refers to El Muriel port, a port where 125,000 Cubans left their homeland and traveled to Florida in 1980. Castro called them "trash" and it's exciting to think that with the controversial leader's health in question as Pitbull releases his second album, the Lil' Chico based in the M.I.A.M.I. is going to blow up the Cuban-American issue like never before. On the great "Miami S***" he brilliantly speaks to the struggle that city and its people endure with a great mix of venom and pride. While there are other moments that prove the man has evolved by leaps and bounds since his 2004 debut, the political angle of the album shouldn't be oversold. Pre-release info from TVT made it sound like this is Pitbull's London Calling or his It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, but there's only a bit of revolution among all this party music. Make that glorious, vibrant, exciting, and always infectious party music. "Bend over girl/Show me what you're working with" from the highlight "Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera)" doesn't seem either pro- or anti-Castro, and it's doubtful guest stars like Rick Ross, Trick Daddy, Ying Yang Twins, and dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel are going to be addressing the plight of the "boat people" anytime soon. Still, the convincing and skilled Pitbull makes it all hang together, thanks in part to the long list of collaborations he's already checked off, but mostly because his delivery and words are sure and steady. Plus, coming up with a short list of highlights is hard, because just like his debut and the remix/loose-ends compilation Money Is Still a Major Issue, El Mariel sounds like a whirlwind mixtape of his best tracks from the recent past, and as you near the end of the album, it actually is said mixtape. While it's hard to deny the more mature Pitbull of "Miami S***," "Raindrops," and "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" is something that needs to be explored further, it's just as hard to deny the rump-shaking, trunk-rumbling stunners he drops all over the album.

Review by David Jeffries

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