Although the considerable heavy-hitter quotient suggests a strategic A&R approach, Pitbull insists that the various collaborations on "Planet Pit" grew out of personal connections. "They all fell into place on their own," he says. "We'd hang out for a couple of nights, then it'd be like, 'Fuck it -- let's make a record together.' "
"This was never about calling up RedOne and scheduling an appointment to hook into the RedOne sound," says Pitbull's manager, Charles Chavez of Latium Entertainment. "His relationships are what made the records happen."
Leach, who's worked with Pitbull since originally signing him to TVT in 2003, says the rapper "moved cautiously with the producers. He wanted to make sure they were marrying what he does and what they do." The exec remembers J A&R president Peter Edge playing him Soulshock & Biker's track for "International Love." "Peter said, 'This sounds like a smash,' and I agreed," Leach says. "I sent it to Pit and he didn't even respond, which meant to me he didn't like it. I knew he had a stop coming up in New Jersey, so when he got there, me, him and Charles went out to lunch. Somewhere in there I said, 'What do you think about 'International Love'? He said, 'It sounds a little too pop for me.' He's like, 'I know this is what's happening, but I still wanna stay in my pocket.' I said, 'Pit, if you think the record's too clean, when you get on it, dirty it up.' Two days later he called from Miami: 'You were right -- wait till you hear these verses.' "
The result of all that hands-on action, RCA Music Group GM Tom Corson says, is a vehicle designed to transform Pitbull from Mr. 305, a nickname that refers to Miami's area code, into Mr. Worldwide, as he calls himself on "Planet Pit." "Pit and the team here have created an album of state-of-the-art pop music for a global audience," Corson says, adding that he hears "five or six" singles on the set. "We're dedicated to building Pitbull into a superstar on the level of the Black Eyed Peas or Enrique Iglesias."
Leach puts it another way: "By the time we're maxed out on this album, people will know Pitbull the artist just as much as they know his songs," he says. "I see him having one of the top-selling albums of the year and becoming the kind of artist that starts and ends awards shows."
According to RCA senior VP of marketing Aaron Borns, the label's plan to hit that mark "is really predicated on two things: reinforcing the quality of the phenomenal pop record Pit made and driving home how great of a live performer he is." In regards to the former, Borns points to Pitbull's participation in an iTunes Countdown promotion, through which five album tracks will have been offered for a la carte purchase by release date. "We wanted people to get a sense of what this record is about, so we made sure we had music out ahead of time," Borns says.
Radio, of course, plays an enormous role here, as well. RCA VP of top 40 promotion David Dyer thinks Pitbull "has been at the forefront of ushering radio into the new [club-friendly] sound" epitomized by "I Know You Want Me" and songs from "Planet Pit." "When he first started coming with these records and with the couple he put out before signing with us, he'd get Miami and maybe New York," Dyer says. "Then all of a sudden it was the big cities, and now it's everywhere. The week we impacted 'Give Me Everything' we got [WKTU], [WHTZ] and [WXRK] in New York and two stations in L.A. At our label that's unheard of."