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Photo: Maritza Zuluaga // AL DIA
Photo: Maritza Zuluaga // AL DIA

Pitbull wants to make education 'sexy'

Armando Christian Pérez tuned into Philadelphia virtually for a discussion with GPHCC President Jennifer Rodriguez about his beginnings and major success.

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B.PHL Fest moved online for the first time, and culminated its edition on Wednesday, Sept. 16, along with an exceptional guest: chart-topping multi-nicknamed artist, Pitbull, also known as Mr. 305.

The discussion, moderated by the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Jennifer Rodriguez, touched on several different topics, including his beginnings, journey to the music industry, success and fame, and philanthropic work.

Two decades into Pitbull's career, he says the path to becoming known as Mr. Worldwide is hard work. 

"The harder I work, the luckier I get. I'm always up for constructive criticism, always up for advice as well from those who have been in the game longer than me," the artist said. 

That hard work got him his start in the music industry and has propelled his atmospheric climb to being one of the world's most famous entertainers. 

And when it comes to being one, there is nothing more powerful than fame, which has brought Pitbull world tours and allowed him to give back to the community he was raised in. 

Eight years ago, he opened a school in Miami's Little Havana called 'SLAM.' It stands for Sports Leadership & Management Charter High School and is modeled after his take on the importance of education. 

"We need to do something exciting, that's sexy," said Pitbull of what needs to change regarding the U.S. education system.

He notes that real change in the world has to begin with education, telling Rodriguez that it is in schools where the real revolution is being fought. 

For him, education is one of his 'chess' moves. He considers that the real way to give back and help the community, the culture, and how people evolve and 'take it to the next level.'

"Fix communities, help the communities, you need to invest in communities, that's the first step," he said. "It is not enough to just show up in the community; you have to invest in it too. Invest in your culture. That is the way to get out of poverty."

During the eight years SLAM existed, three of its graduating classes have had a 100% graduation rate, according to the rapper. 

Pitbull's own path to success is through the three women he considers the leaders in his life: Abuela, tia, y mama. 

Despite the support, he said ending a cycle of poverty is difficult. 

"For a lot of Latino families just arriving in the U.S., even the ghettos of Philadelphia is a step forward from where they were before," Pitbull said. 

That's especially true for families arriving without knowing the language, but beyond communication, it is crucial to understand the system and to learn to maneuver through it once they come.

"We understand sacrifice, struggle, but we love to progress," he said on the migration of Latinos. 

That's essentially the story of Pitbull too, whose ultimate inspiration is now traveling the world as the aptly named "Mr. Worldwide."

"What inspires me is creating lyrics like 'Reporting live from the tallest building in Tokyo,' as well as remembering that every day above ground is a great day," he said. 

That's even true on the days he fails because in his own words: "Failure is the mother of all success."

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