Personnel: Pitbull; Del, Dirtbag, Fat Joe, Lil Jon, Oobie, Piccalo, Skope, Trick Daddy, Wyclef Jean, Cubo, Bun B.
For a label that is based in New York City, TVT has certainly been a major supporter of Southern rap. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, the Ying Yang Twins, Kingpin Skinny Pimp, and Jacki-O are among the Dirty South rappers who have recorded for TVT in the '90s or 2000s, and the name Pitbull can be added to that list. Armando Perez, aka Pitbull, brings a slight Latin flavor to hip-hop's Dirty South school on M.I.A.M.I., his first album for TVT. The Cuban-American MC doesn't inundate listeners with Latin influences; there are plenty of hip-hoppers in Latin America and Spain who rap in Spanish exclusively, but the vast majority of Pitbull's lyrics are in English. Nonetheless, Pitbull does throw in some Spanish lyrics here and there, and some of his grooves successfully unite crunk and the Dirty South with elements of the high-tech club music that has been coming out of Latin America. M.I.A.M.I. is, to a large degree, a party album; Pitbull is undeniably club-friendly on R-rated jams like "She's Freaky," "Get on the Floor," "Shake It Up," and "Culo" (which features Lil Jon and blends crunk with the Latin reggaeton style). But M.I.A.M.I. isn't just an endless ode to sex, tight skirts, and shapely booties; Pitbull tackles some social issues as well, especially on "Dirty" and "Hustler's Withdrawal" (which describes the dangers of drug dealing). By 2004 standards, Pitbull's lyrics aren't revolutionary; he is hardly the first MC to rap about drugs and thug life or sex and women. Even so, his willingness to combine Latin and Dirty South elements makes M.I.A.M.I. one of the more memorable and interesting Southern rap discs of 2004. ~ Alex Henderson