Pitbull ready to throw some rap jabs at The Pearl

It only seems like Pitbull knows every other performer in the music business.

But the rapper says he wasn’t able to add Pink, Taylor Swift or Aerosmith to his already impressive list of collaborators when he shared the MGM Grand Garden stage with them at last September’s iHeartRadio Music Festival.

“Everybody’s in their own world. God knows where they gotta go right after the show or where they just came from. You really don’t have a chance to, I would say, have a conversation,” he says of the few luminaries he hasn’t yet roped into his hit-making empire.

But the rapper born Armando Perez held his own among superstar company as a live performer at iHeart, putting to rest any worries about whether he can hold down the stage without guest stars at the Palms today and Saturday.

Sure, he employs video assists from collaborators such as T-Pain (“Hey Baby”), Chris Brown (“Hope We Meet Again”), Shakira (“Get It Started”) and Marc Anthony (“Rain Over Me”).

But the 31-year-old covers the stage like a fighter covers the ring, and says his show is “definitely a boxing match. I’m coming in to jab, jab, jab, hook and then uppercut. It doesn’t stop,” he says.

“It’s almost like I am a DJ performing a set. I don’t stop to talk. I may stop two or three times in a show and that’s it.”

Pitbull’s rise as a live attraction can be measured at Red Rock Resort, where he was the opening act for his “Come N Go” collaborator Enrique Iglesias in 2011, but returned as headliner last August.

But Pitbull has become even more of a mogul as a writer and producer, synthesizing hip-hop, Latin rhythm and the new era of superstar DJs such as Afrojack (yes, another collaborator).

“The DJs have learned how to make records, not just play a beat,” he says. “What makes DJs so powerful is they’re their own A&R (departments). They can tell themselves what’s big or not because they’re watching the people who are dancing to it. They can tell right off if there’s magic behind a record because of a crowd’s reaction.”

To explain his own growing empire, Pitbull quotes “Boardwalk Empire,” the HBO gangster drama: “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a second to destroy it.”

“I take that literally, especially in this business,” he adds. “We are growing in a shrinking business,” and he attributes that to reputation. “Your word and your work ethic is key.”

He thinks artists are telling other artists, “Hey, you really need to work with this guy. He’s about his business, he’s always on time, he makes sure anything you got on the marketing side he’s always gonna handle. … You’re getting more of an infrastructure.”

That’s why he doesn’t risk his reputation on excessive Las Vegas clubbing.

“I just usually have the party in the room, have a good time there, so if it gets a little too wild, at least we keep it in a controlled atmosphere,” he says.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ or 702-383-0288.


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