Pitbull — “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”

Released: 2.24.09        

Peak: #2

Pitbull has never been one to waste effort. The Miami rapper followed up his debut album, Money Is a Major Issue, with a remix-and-whatnot disc called Money Is Still a Major Issue, lost hometown acronym be damned. His early crunk hits were spare bursts of energy and personality, their hooks showcasing Lil Jon at his most minimal. As simple and raw as its title, “Culo” (“Ass”) was little more than a chant and a handclap, with most of that “little more” just LJ’s customary vocal noises. By comparison, “I Know You Want Me” is a busy patchwork of distant submarine pings, flamenco guitar breaks, and, most prominently, the descending trumpet figure from Chicago’s “Street Player.”

Jon sampled the latter from Nicola Fasano and Pat Rich’s “75, Brazil Street” (though it had anchored the Bucketheads’ “The Bomb” long before), just as Pitbull had commandeered the title hook from a Dominican mambo duo. You might think Pit’s too wobbly a mic controller to put his individual stamp on these borrowed elements — neither his lusting after the honey with “an ass like a donkey” or inviting us to watch him “make a movie like Alfred Hitchcock” makes me want to search out translations of his Spanish rhymes. But he’s a hell of a master of ceremonies, contributing the most entertaining Spanglish count since “Wooly Bully” and an upfront self-assurance that sounded refreshingly candid up against the moment’s prevailing pick-up hit, Jamie Foxx’s shiftily date-rapey “Blame It.”

Still, there are only so many let’s-spend-the-night-together jams a fellow can cosign. Pit’s own “Hotel Room Service” brandished his limitations as a mack, and “Give Me Everything,” in which Ne-Yo attempts to terrify women into one-night stands by predicting the end of the world, is just plain desperate. It’s also a huge hit, as is its album of origin, Passion Pit. Because the world has wondered for too long what a solo record by the dude from Real McCoy would’ve sounded like.

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