We talked to Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, about what being a first-generation Cuban American has meant to him, and how Latin culture has inspired his musical career.
To what degree has your success allowed you to be a proponent for more Latin inclusion in the arts?
I’m not here to talk about it, I’m here to be about it. I am a first-generation Cuban American. I was born and raised in Miami. Miami is a melting pot of different Latin cultures. That’s what my live shows are about. I showcase the Miami and Latin cultures around the world. I bring people together and show them what we’re all about: positive energy and having a good time.
How have you used your music to embrace your culture?
Music is the universal language. What I love about music is how it brings people together. My music is a reflection of how I grew up. I grew up with all sorts of different musical influences including salsa, merengue, bachata, bass, freestyle, hip hop, techno, house, and more. I have never been afraid of mixing things up. My music is about enjoying the moment and the beats. It’s feel-good music. I’m here to inspire and be inspired.
Who had the biggest influence on your life and why?
Women have played the largest influence in my life. My grandmother, aunt, mother, and my high school teacher Hope Martinez all played key roles in making me who I am today. I would not be the man I am without the women who raised me.
My grandmother, aunt, and mother taught me the importance of freedom. My grandmother was a Cuban revolutionary, my aunt a political prisoner, and my mother left Cuba via Peter Pan (Pedro Pan).
The grind that I put into my work every day is a reflection of my grandmother, aunt, and mother. They’ve always taught me there are no limits in freedom and life.
My teacher (Hope Martinez) was the first person to really believe in me, outside of my family. She helped make me believe in my own artistry. If it wasn’t for Hope, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
If you don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know where you’re going. Thanks to the women in my life, I’m now in a place where I can help others. That’s one of the reasons I most recently partnered with Jeff Hoffman from the Global Entrepreneurship Network and Hello Alice to provide grants to Latinx Small Business owners across the country to keep their small businesses alive, and to help those who need it the most during the pandemic.
You have worked over the past decade to close the poverty gap through education — what has that experience taught you?
Education is power. I started the Sports Leadership & Management Academy (SLAM!) back in 2013. I got involved in education because I want people to know there are no boundaries. We want to change the way we relate to education. Whether you want to be in business, tech, or the arts, SLAM! gives students the possibility to explore their passions.