This is a thing that Pitbull actually said once, of his own music: “‘If I was younger, I’d think it was some bullshit. The music isn’t brilliant.”
After producing party anthem after party anthem, endless commercial endorsements, a trip to Alaska, it’s easy to forget that Pitbull was once an underground rapper with a point of view. It appears to have taken Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba to bring him back to his roots. “Open Letter” is a soft-spoken retrospective of Cuba and Miami’s history; in response to Jay-Z’s middle-finger of a hip-hop track, this track seeks to contextualize the Cuban experience in the US. It’s a smart move – with smart lyrics – to answer Hova’s flippancy with perspective rather than anger; Pitbull’s qualms aren’t really with Jay and B, nor are they totally with the politicians throwing shade. (He raps, “Question of the night: would they have messed with Mr. Carter if he was white?” The answer is “Probably not.”) Pitbull’s response is something larger – an indictment in general of people’s willingness to use the Cuban people as political pawns.
And I’m just as surprised as you are that I just wrote an analysis of a track from Mr. Worldwide. It’s smart, it’s political, it’s personal, and it’s not about butts.
Is this song brilliant? No. But it’s worth a listen.