Even if you don’t know his songs by name, chances are you’ve partied to Pitbull.
With his No. 1 hit “Give Me Everything” and collaborations with stars like Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown, Kesha and Shakira, the Cuban-American rapper born Armando Christian Perez is riding high with his career.
But Pitbull’s monster success hasn’t gone to his head. As he recently told Nischelle Turner on “CNN Spotlight”: He just wants to bring joy to his fans.
“When you make this music that makes everybody feel good, that is the goal,” he said. “When you come and see me … I want you to escape. No mortgage. No bills. No baby mama drama. No child support. No economy messed up. No war. No terrorists. Just come here and lose your mind and enjoy.”
But what makes Pitbull feel good? Snagging high-profile gigs like opening the World Cup or hosting the American Music Awards keeps him busy, but here are five things you may not know about Mr. Worldwide:
1. He plays hard, and he works hard.
Banish the thought that Pitbull is just a musician. Behind the scenes, he is also a savvy businessman who, in addition to a line of fragrances for men and women and a TV development company, also has partnerships with Kodak, Voli Vodka and Bud Light.
When asked for his best investment tips, Pitbull said: “Don’t be afraid to lose. Listen. And always invest in yourself.”
With almost 17 million Twitter followers and millions of downloads of his music, he is a pop culture force to be reckoned with.
“Pitbull is only going to get bigger,” Rolling Stone journalist Simon Vozick-Levinson said. “He’s someone who’s not going to stop until he takes over the entire world.”
“There’s nothing owed to you in life,” Pitbull said. “Those who make it work hard for it.”
2. His stage name has meaning.
According to the biography “Pitbull: Mr. Worldwide,” the rapper had a reason for wanting to be known after a particular breed of dog.
“(Pitbulls) bite to lock,” the book quotes him as saying. “The dog is too stupid to lose. And they’re outlawed in Dade County (Florida). They’re basically everything that I am. It’s been a constant fight.”
He told CNN that he admires the tenacity of the breed.
“I like the hunt; I like when people say you can’t, you won’t, you never will,” Pitbull said. “Those kind of things turn me on.”
It was around the release of his song “I Know You Want Me” that Pitbull began to expand his territory. He went from representing Miami as Mr. 305 (for the city’s area code) to the man we’ve now come to know as Mr. Worldwide.
“If you don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know where you’re going,” Pitbull said. “Believe me, I know where I’m from. I love it. I wear it on my chest. Everywhere I go everybody knows Mr. 305, Mr. Dade County, Miami boy representing. When I say Mr. Worldwide, it’s because we’re all around the world. Now, we’ve got to think of another name like Mr. Another Planet or something.”
3. His clothing does, too.
Fans can’t seem to get enough of Pitbull the sharp-dressed man (think tailored suits, not jeans and baseball caps), but to Pitbull, it’s more than just a fashion statement.
“What I’ve shown is evolution through the music business,” he said. “When people ask, ‘How come you don’t do music for the streets no more?’
“Man, I made music to get out the streets, not to stay in the streets. ‘How come you be putting on these suits now?’ It shows maturity; it shows growth; it shows evolution. This is what I want to teach y’all; this is what this music’s about. This is what this journey is about.”
“He’s the truth,” Usher said. “He’s consistent. He constantly is a gentleman. There’s something about a man who at every turn shows up with a suit on — and will sweat for two hours in it. He’s committed, man.”
4. He speaks his mind, whether you like it or not.
What is celebrity status if it doesn’t include a few beefs here and there? Pitbull has had his share of run-ins with other stars including Lindsay Lohan, who lost a defamation lawsuit against him after he rapped in a song, “I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan” in reference to her highly publicized arrests.
Rapper Lil Wayne also ran afoul of Pitbull after ranting against his beloved Miami Heat. Pitbull went so far as to record a “diss track” called “Welcome to Dade County.”
5. He is inspiring the next generation to be successful like him.
As Lil Wayne learned the hard way, Pitbull takes both Miami and sports seriously. But beyond recording music about it, he is using that passion to help shape the future. He helped create the Sports Leadership and Management Academy, aka SLAM, a charter school in Miami with a sports-based curriculum.
“The reason it’s so special is cause (the kids) are me,” Pitbull said. “I can say (to them), ‘I can tell you what’s going on in your house right now. I know. I feel you. I’ve been there.’ … If we catch them at that little age, mold their minds, teach them what it is to be motivated, self-inspire, believe in themselves because coming from the neighborhood we came from no one believed in us … this is changing the world little by little.”
CNN’s Nischelle Turner contributed to this story.