Along with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to his name and Miami’s key to the city in his velvet-vest pocket, Armando Christian Perez—better known as chart-topping rapper Pitbull, aka “Mr. 305,” aka “Mr. Worldwide”—can add grand marshal to his multifaceted list of credits.
He leads this month’s annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, celebrating its 45th year. The night before, on Dec. 9, Pitbull will play to a packed house at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. Hot off his “Bad Man Tour”—and looking forward to the release of his 10th full-length album, “Climate Change,” in 2017—he shows no signs of slowing down.
Lifestyle talked with the man who credits his mother’s tough love with turning his life around—from a teenage drug dealer in Miami to an internationally renowned artist whose videos have collected a combined 9 billion views on YouTube/Vevo.
- We know you love Miami because you grew up here, but what is it that keeps you so loyal?
I feel like Miami and I have grown up together. Being born in 1981 is exactly when Miami began surging in real estate and “extracurricular activities.” Throughout the decades, I’ve seen Miami go from an underdog city to a worldwide-known destination as a Latin metropolis. 305 till I die, baby. Dale!
[Note: The Cuban-American entertainer uses the Spanish word “dale,” pronounced “dah-lay,” as his catchphrase. Translated, it essentially means “go for it.”]
- Winterfest is really a South Florida tribute to the holidays. What do you think is the best thing about how we celebrate the holidays here?
It’s the same answer I give for why I decided to do my New Year’s show in Miami. We are bringing the Big Apple to the Pineapple. Where better to celebrate and party than in the hot and sexy weather of South Florida? Why party in the cold, wearing winter coats and gloves when you can be in bikinis and tuxedos?
- You’ll be serving as grand marshal on a boat—which brings to mind the video for the single “Sexy People,” shot aboard on a 164-foot megayacht. What is it about the boating life that speaks to you?
When you grow up in Miami, how can you not love the water, boating and everything that comes with it? We filmed “Don’t Stop the Party” on a yacht during one of Miami’s regattas to emphasize that very point. The boating life is the party life.
- That video features you performing with other top artists, a staple of your work. Everyone wants to get on the “Mr. Worldwide” bandwagon. How do those partnerships work?
In this business, as much as any other, your reputation lives by your last hit. You’ve got to keep it fresh, and it’s much easier doing that when you’re collaborating with great partners. The relationships work through sheer synergy and solid relationships. I’m blessed to be able to work with so many talented artists.
- You’ve changed the face of rap in some ways because of your smooth looks and sense of fashion. Where did the look come from?
I’ve always been about creating global music. Like any successful business, it’s about growing, evolving and setting the trend, as opposed to following it. I got into this business to get out of the streets, not to stay in the streets.
- Growing up in Miami, did you have a favorite holiday memory?
One of my favorite holiday memories is simple: When we didn’t have much, we made a Christmas tree using soda and beer cans as ornaments.
- What does the new year look like for you?
2016 has been destruction in the music industry. We won an American Grammy for a Spanish record, we continued to export and tour our music around the world. We even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 2017 is simple: It’s called the Gingerbread Man Plan: Catch me if you can.
When: Saturday, Dec. 10, from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Where: The boat parade follows a 12-mile route starting at the New River, then travels east to the Intracoastal Waterway as it continues north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.
What: More than 100 boats, ranging from 20-footers to corporate megayachts, will be decked out in this year’s theme: Comics and Cartoons Rockin’ the Night Away.