- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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At this point, when I hear or see Armando Cristian Perez, the rap/dance musician better known by stage name “Pitbull,” I reflexively wince.
Rarely has a musician so apparently mediocre become so ubiquitous so quickly. It seems like you can’t step foot into a late-night establishment -- a club playing the "hottest" eletronic stuff or a sports bar rocking top–40 Pandora radio -- without hearing one of Pitbull’s mangled, grunty verses. You can’t turn on your TV, lest you be barraged by Pitbull’s starring roles in ads for Dr Pepper and Bud Light. (The Bud Light ad, in which Pitbull opens a beer, says “da,” and improves the appearance of every woman around him tenfold, always feels particularly egregious.) A few weeks ago, one of those ads came on TV, and my roommate asked me if I knew anyone who actively enjoyed Pitbull. I did not. Neither did he.
Our search is over. Turns out, South Carolina coach Frank Martin really loves him some Pitbull.
Martin revealed as much on his Twitter account Tuesday, when he informed his followers he was on his way to Atlanta to see the man himself perform live: “On my way 2 Atlanta 2 c the best performer that’s our there @Pitbull . I want our players 2 play w the same passion w which he petforms.” Later, Martin posted a photo of his vantage point backstage at the show, followed by this: “2 know where he comes from and c where he is at is the American dream. I’m living it every day.”
Whatever you think about Pitbull -- and one of the replies to Martin’s tweet basically sums up how I feel – that level of fandom I can understand. Martin, like Perez, is an American-born son of Cuban parents who grew up hard in Miami. Like Perez, who was dismissed for much of his early career, Martin had his share of initial difficulties in the coaching profession. Like Perez, Martin transcended his origins, working himself to one of the highest levels of his profession. Both men’s stories really do represent very similar, timeless versions of the American dream. I can absolutely respect that. (And, more cynically, I suppose a tie to a popular music artist is never a bad thing for recruiting. Just ask Kentucky.)
So I guess the best hope here is that shared experiences have forged a bond between the two men, and that if Martin has the ability to get backstage for a show, he also has the influence to bend Pitbull’s ear about his various artistic choices. First up? Convincing him to sit a few projects out every once in a while. Performing a 15-second verse on every track in circulation is probably not the best way to build a lasting musical legacy.