Eminem, 50 Cent: Get ready for a dogfight
'Pitbull' is climbing the hip-hop ladder
By Simon Umlauf
(CNN) -- Walking the streets of Little Havana with Miami rapper Pitbull is like a scene out the movie "Scarface."
"We just had some cats murdered down here at Alonzo Mourning's barber shop," Pit says remorsefully with a street-tough snort. "They told [one victim] to put his kid down and then they [shot him]."
Pitbull has the same presence of "Scarface" gangster Tony Montana. He's Cuban, he's confident and he's attracting a lot of attention. But the people looking for him don't carry guns or badges -- they hang gold and platinum records on their walls.
Right now, 22-year-old Armando "Pitbull" Perez is Miami's hip-hop hero, that city's version of Atlanta's OutKast or Houston's Geto Boys.
Pitbull landed one of his tracks "Oye" on the "2 Fast 2 Furious" soundtrack and constantly heats up Florida's airwaves with his sonic concoction of rap and merengue.
Pit also earned a skit on Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz' album "Kings of Crunk" and spit some Miami heat into Lil Jon's "I Don't Give A ..." remix.
His next album includes a list of producers ranging from Lil Jon, the Diaz Brothers (who have worked with Fat Joe and Lauryn Hill) and Red Spider (50 Cent).
Like a true street hustler, Pitbull rips the beats off a popular rap song and sprays it with his own English and Spanish verses. Once he lays down his own lyrics he often mixes in merengue hooks and Cuban catcalls, giving the track some Little Havana flavor.
No artist is out of Pitbull's range; tracks by Missy Elliot, 50 Cent and 2Pac get the Miami street treatment. Jermaine Dupri's "Welcome to Atlanta" was taken to the chop shop and became "Welcome to Miami" -- a sizzling shout-out.
But before Pitbull was kicking out Florida's "Dirty South" party anthems, he was the protégé of none other than Mr. "Me So Horny" himself, Luther "Luke" Campbell of 2 Live Crew fame. The young rapper spent a year with Campbell, which earned him a degree at the hip-hop school of hard knocks.
"In this game, these are the things Luke taught me," Pitbull explains. "Number one: It's all about networking and relationships; you got to be everywhere you need to be. Number two: In this game you got to hurry up and wait. Number three: Patience, passion and perseverance leads to success."
Pitbull lives every minute of every day by these three lessons and hustles his mix tapes through New York and Miami with the same resilience Tony Montana peddled dope in "Scarface."
Before a recent show the young tough is piling boxes of CDs in the trunk of a friend's car to sell at the concert. At the same time, his buddy's girlfriends gather in his apartment with glue-guns, colored fabric and scissors making "Pitbull" jerseys for the voluptuous young Haitian and Colombian girls to wear at his CD booth.
"It's definitely hard to make it out here," Pitbull admits. "A lot of people get it twisted cause they hear me all over the radio on different songs, they think I'm just balling out of control. But on the contrary, I live an everyday struggle."