Hi. Rap Critic here. Let's talk about Pitbull…
So, how do you talk about a rapper who has nothing to say?
I mean, I can't remember one song from this man that DIDN'T talk about being in a club. As far as I remember, his topics range from "party party party, and drink, drink, drink" to "party party party, and drink, drink, drink … but, like, in another country this time!". Geez, even Sean Paul did a love song every once in a while! And I don't have a problem with party music in general, far from it, it's just that anything involving Pitbull's music has a very… processed feel to it, like a prepackaged, factory-sealed, product. Every one of his mini-verses seem like such cliff notes versions of rap music tropes, it's insulting
Like, dude, come on, LIE TO ME. Can you at least pretend like you're more than "the go-to guy for optional rap verses on pop songs"? You know how on some radio stations, they'll cut out the rap verse of a song, leaving you with 30 seconds of an awkward voiceless backtrack, as you rap along to words that you could swear were there the last time you heard it? "California Gurls". Yeah, because apparently there's still a large amount of people out there who just can't stand the thought of rappers in popular music, so much so that there are radio stations across the country who market themselves on the idea that, "Hey, if you listen to us, you don't have to wory about all that pesky rap nonsense that's ruining music!" *play intro to "California Gurls". Wait, they even cut him out of the intro? He's not even rapping there!
I have NEVER heard of something like this happen to other genres of music. I've never heard of a radio station dedicated to editing out violins and saxophone solos from songs because some people don't like jazz or classical music. In fact, I've never heard of a rap station that prides itself on cutting pop singers out of rap songs, but when it comes to rappers on pop songs, people are still saying "get that damn talky noise out of my ear," so much so that you can bank your radio station's appeal on that sentiment alone? That's… disappointing, to say the least. Wait, who were we talking about again? Oh yeah, Pitbull. Sorry, I got distracted by something interesting...
But yeah, Pitbull to me, always ends up sounding like a guest artist on his own songs most of the time. In fact, I'm surprised no radio station's gotten confused and accidentally cut the the rap verses out of his own songs. *example of Pitbull's song being edited*
You know, I reviewed a Flo Rida song a year or so ago, and the only reason I decided to do so was because it was called "I Cry", and a title like that meant that maybe he would say something I could actually make a full episode ago. And, well, he did say a few things, but for the most part, it was kinda typical. But hey, at least there was that initial interest. Now, Pitbull's a little different from Flo, in that, admittedly, his Spanish heritage gives him a a little bit of flavor to his lyrics, but not in a really substantial way. But, like Flo Rida, I figure if I do hear a song from that sounds like it'll stand out, I give it a try
Then, I heard this song, "Timber". *song intro* Well that's…certainly different. A country western rap song from a guy from Cuba and a woman who was obviously raised in… in… Nashville, Tennessee? Oh… well, she doesn't sound like it! *beat switches to typical club music* Uh… and neither does this song anymore. Really, the harmonica is the only thing keeping the country theme together. And yeah, the sample comes from a 70's bluesy song, but… look at this video. I think you know what they're going for
It’s going down, I’m yelling timber You better move
I will say, that's a relatively witty, catchy first lyric. Unfortunately, I wouldn't say it's strong enough to build a whole song around, but given how generic the rest of the chorus is, it leads me to believe that that first lyric was the only reason this song was made. Like, they were thinking, "Hey, guys, how's this: "it's going down... like someone shouted timber, get it?" And… uh… rednecks like trees, right? Rednecks, lumberjacks, same thing, am I right? Am I right, fellas? No, seriously, is that right? I don't know…
"Let's make a night *Or, a song* you won't remember"
Okay, let's stop wasting time. Let's get to pit bull. So basically, let's waste more time...
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
Okay, that's not a bad opener, continuing with the trees-slash-party metaphor, in that the bigger the tree or the bigger the party, the more intensely hard it's gonna go down. That's… ok
This biggity boy’s a dignity dog
Also, I appreciate the callback to the 90's with the Das EFX's placement of "iggety" in the middle of words, which is fitting, because it pays homage to the HipHop tradition that, even back in the 90's, rappers could get famous off of spitting a bunch of unimportant nonsense. Seriously, listen to "They Want EFX" and tell me it held some deep message about the human condition:
My thigh bone's connected to my knee bone My knee bone's connected to my hardy-har-har-har
No Parks sausages, mom, please
Oh-h-h-h-h-h-hhh I'm steamin, a-go-ny!
B - I - N - G - O-oh You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, hon, so uh Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun
I'm pretty sure those guys just got high and tried to reference everything from their childhood as quickly as possible. Hm… I wonder if they went on to write for Family Guy. *play "Price is Right" loser horn, look to camera, shrug shoulders*
I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber
I understand that Miley Cyrus is a buzz word right now when it comes to twerking, but *show miley twerking* I don't think that's because she was good at it
Face down, booty up, timber That’s the way we like the what, timber
Okay, really, what is up with rappers censoring themselves on the uncensored versions of songs. I get it if it's done for an effect, like a joke or something, but THIS lyric is a reference to a very explicit 2 Live crew song:
"FACE DOWN, ASS UP, THAT'S THE WAY WE LIK TO FUCK"
And he's not making a joke about it, he sounds like he was tapped on the shoulder and told to make the lyric less explicit by saying "booty" instead ass and saying "that's the way we like to WHAAT!?" like his parents just walked in while he was recording the lyrics
"Face down, booty up, that's the way we like to WHAT!?! Mom, dad, you weren't supposed to be in the studio today?!
Look, when the only reason you're self-censoring your words is so because you're actively trying to be more radio friendly, then just erase the lyrics and say something else!
Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane Nah, it’s just me, ain’t a damn thing changed
I guess that's an okay reference, saying that even though people may seem him as someone whose ego's reached a great height as far as fame and wealth are concerned, he's still a down to earth guy, but… when you watch the video, it ruins any charm it might have had. He just looks so smug about a line that wasn't really that great. *show his face* Get it, I compared myself to superman, hehe… well, I thought it was funny…*
Club jumping like Lebron, now Voli
You know, I would be angry about this blatant interruption of the song for the sole purpose of product placement, but honestly, I'll take this over what he did on the "Give Me Everything" song, which, at the very start of the song, synergized repetition of product placement with the fact that rhyming words with themselves has become openly accepted as a way to rap in order to give us this gem:
Me not working hard? Yeah, right! Picture that with a Kodak Or, better yet, go to Times Square Take a picture of me with a Kodak
Why yes, Pitbull DID have a deal with Kodak. How did you know? Well, anyways, let's get back to the verse:
Swing your partner round and round End of the night, it’s going down One more shot, another round End of the night, it’s going down
Oh, I'm sorry, I must have skipped to the bridge near the end of the song, let's back up by about 45 seconds
Swing your partner round and round End of the night, it’s going down
Wait, I'm sorry, I went too far back! Now, we're in the middle of the first verse, and… wait, keep playing that part
One more shot, another round End of the night, it’s going down
…No… This man, instead of making two full verses, just repeated a two bar phrase for the second half of BOTH verses. You… cheater!!! Dude, n… really? You just COULDN'T be bothered to write two complete verses? I mean, hey, I guess that makes both our jobs easier. Whatever, you know what? I give this a 2 out of 5
You could give this song credit for trying to do the country western approach with the harmonica, and the intro that sounds like a more bluesy/country western feel. And to Pit's credit, he's... just not on the song long enough to annoy me. His mannerisms are there, but they're tolerable. Well, except for the "just repeat one phrase to substitute as the second half of the verse" thing. It's so obviously jarring to hear, because to my ear, it truly feels like he ran out of things to say and just plugged in the bridge that was supposed to go at the end to make up for unfinished verses. As well, after a while, the phrase "it's going down" is used so much, it starts to feel like one of the writers was someone's out-of-touch dad who just figured out what "it's going down" meant, and REALLY wanted his kids to know that he was hip to the lingo
It's goin' down It's going down It's goin' down It's going down It's goin' down IT'S, ABOUT, TO GO, DOWN!
After a while it starts to feel forced, like they're TRYING to make it popular, or people JUST started saying it and they're trying to make it the new Y.O.L.O. or something, but it doesn't have enough personality or catchiness to do so. Well, I'm the Rap Critic!
You don't have to like my opinion, but I don't have to like your song...