Pitbull - The Boatlift

Posted November 26, 2007
Tags: Pitbull,

Get together any group of hip-hop fans and you’ll undoubtedly hear the word “club” tossed...

The Boatlift Album Review

Get together any group of hip-hop fans and you’ll undoubtedly hear the word “club” tossed around like Jermaine Dupri in a sumo-wrestling contest. When we talk about "the club" it seems like a simple term, but stop and think about it and things get more complicated (thinking tends to do that). Take my hometown of Los Angeles for example: I’m So Hood would provoke a riot with the crowd at Arena, but would clear the floor at the celebrity-soaked club The Edison, while the audience at The Mayan would sit in stunned silence until the salsa-rhythms came back on. When we say a song’s a “club-hit,” what clubs are we talking about?

I'm only questioning what makes a song "club" because of Pitbull and his new album The Boatlift. If there was one club where all of America came to party, and you were the DJ, you might just want to throw on The Boatlift and walk away. Pitbull has constructed over sixty minutes of wall-to-wall speaker shakers guaranteed to work any crowd into a dancing frenzy (with the exception of the good folks down at Hank’s Square Dance Palace). The Boatlift isn’t going to expand your intellectual or spiritual horizons, but it is without question a go-to album for all your booty-shakin needs.

Let’s start our hypothetical country-wide party with The Anthem, an unstoppably kinetic combination of Pitbull’s Cuban-inspired beats and the crackhead energy of Lil’ Jon. I know some people out there swear they would never dance to a song like The Anthem, but with the proper motivation (drinks and a room full of ladies) they'll be gettin' down with the best of 'em. Candyman follows a similarly gyrating pattern, except this time with a Timbaland-esque beat that puts haunting vocals over a shaking percussion section and a riding bass line. Who better to flow over stuttering production than the liquid-tongued Twista, and Pitbull mixes his Spanish and English rhymes with astonishing fluency. From the reggaeton-styled Levantate to the stripped down sound of Go Girl, a track that uses Diddy’s monologue from Big Poppa as a chorus, The Boatlift will have dance fiends running for the floor like they stole something.

Of course there’s a lot that goes on in clubs besides dancing, and a solid portion of it is illegal. Sticky reunites Pitbull with the King of Crunk for a knocking ode to some serious green, and I don't mean money. The track’s got a little too much bounce to be a truly chronic anthem, but even a mediocre Jim Jones feature can stop the good times. In some clubs you don’t even dance at all, in fact you sit and watch other people dance. I don’t have to tell you what Stripper’s Pole is about, let’s just say you might want to cover the kid’s ears when it comes on. Enjoyably obscene lyrics aside, the production is a subtle smooth mix of Latin percussion and electronic synths, topped off with Toby Love’s impressively freaky vocals. Pitbull gives his younger fans something to slow dance to with Secret Admirer, an almost painfully sweet song featuring the world’s nicest singer, Lloyd. It’s hard to believe the shy rapper on Secret Admirer is the same one who says “Lick some *****, ***, and *******,” on Stripper’s Pole, but you have to be impressed with Pitbull’s versatility; he writes songs that get played by teenage girls, grown men and everyone in between. As opposed to Stack$, who can’t write a song anyone enjoys (sorry, that was a cheap shot).

I do have one bone to pick with Pitbull; I appreciate booty shaking as much as the next guy, but how can someone who’s named their last two albums El Mariel and The Boatlift (both references to Cubans trying to escape Fidel Castro) not drop a single politically oriented song? Pitbull spits three short a cappella verses over the course of the album, but it’s a token gesture in a sea of club-friendly hits. I don’t expect depth from shallow MCs (see Yung Berg’s verse on Un Poquito), but Pitbull’s too good not to give us more. I mean Daddy Yankee’s El Cartel sounds militant in comparison. There, it’s out of my system, I’m done ranting. The important thing to remember is if I had to throw a party for the entire country and I only got to play one album, The Boatlift would get some serious consideration. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go hit the town, who’s bringing the Patron?

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted November 26, 2007
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