“Yeah, we don’t talk about that,” Pitbull says with a laugh. “He’s very honorable, just a fun guy.”
The Miami-based rapper has been working with Cuban on his New Year’s Eve concert at AmericanAirlines Arena (tickets are $70.65-$197, fees included, at Ticketmaster), a show that will be broadcast live on AXS TV, a newly rebranded, pop-culture-oriented version of Cuban’s HDNet cable channel. The Monday telecast, titled “What Happens in Miami, Never Happened,” will air on AXS TV starting at 10:45 p.m.
In linking himself with the channel, Pitbull is joining forces with some entertainment-industry heavyweights: AXS is a project created by Cuban, Ryan Seacrest, concert promoter AEG Live and the influential talent conglomerate Creative Artists Agency. Pitbull, who once sang “I’m not an a--hole, I’m about my cash flow,” sounds right at home.
“I have immense respect for Ryan Seacrest,” says the singer, born Armando Cristian Pérez to Cuban parents in Miami 32 years ago on Jan. 15. “He’s on everything — the radio show; he’s the face of ‘American Idol’; he’s producing; hosting the Dick Clark New Year’s Eve. … I’m trying to follow in his footsteps.”
To that end, Pitbull wants the New Year’s Eve concert to be the first of what he hopes will be an annual event, in which Mr. 305 (also known as Mr. Worldwide) becomes South Florida’s answer to, yes, Dick Clark.
“It’ll be a party, but we’re taking it to the next level. [Dick Clark] made the ball drop — we’re making it go up,” he says, laughing.
Last month, Pitbull released his seventh album, “Global Warming,” a record that wears its commercial ambitions on its sleeve in collaborations with Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Usher and the Wanted. Speaking last week from Los Angeles, where he was shooting segments of VH1’s “Divas” and “The X Factor,” the singer admits to leaning on pop music, while “dirtying it up a little,” but makes no apologies. “It is a music BUSINESS,” he says.
Pitbull, who recently scored a No. 1 hit with “Give Me Everything,” is already diversified, with sponsorship ties to major brands including Dr Pepper and Bud Light, the dissolvable energy strip Sheets and his own line of premium low-calorie vodka, Voli.
Also demanding his time is the rebranding of one of South Florida’s iconic food franchises, Fort Lauderdale-based the New Miami Subs Grill, which includes the singer as an equity partner. While the menu will remain familiar, some of the stores will get a modern “sexy lounge” face-lift, he says.
If it all sounds like a man on a mission, Pitbull agrees he has a chip on his shoulder. Miami has never gotten the respect it deserves as a pop-culture force, he says.
“All this hustle, all this grind, I learned from Uncle Luke and Willy Chirino,” says Pitbull, warning that the tables have been turned. “I run into DJ Khaled and Flo Rida all around the world. Dubai, Mexico City. Rick Ross and Flo are ruling the charts. DJ Laz is taking over radio. … Miami is the mecca, the hub of what’s going on.”
Not that you need the practice, but here are some ways to warm up for Monday night.
It might get loud: In this season of giving, the Norton Museum of Art (1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach) is offering free admission on Thursday (Dec. 27), a day that culminates with a soulful Art After Dark program from 5 to 9 p.m. The evening of “cocktails, conversation and music” also represents the opening party for the exhibition “Say it Loud: Art by African and African-American Artists in the Collection” and includes a 7 to 9 p.m. performance of Motown-influenced sounds by Greg Jackson and the Mojo Band. Info: Norton.org, 561-832-5196.
Mixed nuts: When you try to get your float (or art car or posse or whatever) in Coconut Grove’s King Mango Strut, the application form is up-front about the essential quality organizers are looking for, asking: “How will it make people laugh?” The Strut, a free-to-watch, open-to-all parade that has been “putting the ‘nut’ back in Coconut Grove since 1982,” is 2 p.m. Sunday at Commodore Plaza in the Grove, culminating with the after-Strut party (bands, refreshments and merriment). Recommended parking includes Cocowalk and Shoppes of Mayfair. Info: KingMangoStrut.org, 305-582-0955.
Birthday blues: Guitarist and local treasure Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who turns 83 on Saturday, will make the drive up I-95 from his Kendall home for a Friday night gig with the Nouveaux Honkies at the Bamboo Room (25 S. J St., Lake Worth). Show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets: $23, $28. Info: BambooRoomBlues.com, 561-585-2583.
More, more, more: Is it too late for Pablo Francisco to do his Christmas-themed version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”? Hoping not. Catch the comic Friday-Monday at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Hard Rock in Hollywood. Tickets: $25-$60. Info: FTL.Improv.com, 954-981-5653.
Doctor appointment: Dr. Lonnie Smith was once a regular in South Florida, well known for his towering turban and Hammond B3 organ, an underappreciated instrument of nimble jazz inventiveness with which Smith would fill O’Hara’s on Las Olas with smoky, sexy soulfulness. It seems like a dream now. … So it’s not a surprise that Smith’s Saturday night engagement at the Arts Garage (180 NE First St., Delray Beach) is a sellout. Happily, they’ve added a second show on Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 general admission, with premium seating $30, $35. Info: ArtsGarage.org, 561-450-6357.
Jam on it: Donna the Buffalo and the Bright Light Social Hour are two bands with ample indie cred that have eluded our ears to this point, and this is the weekend to rectify that. On Friday night, Donna brings the fiddling jams to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale ($17 at JointheRevolution.net) and BLSH offers more jammy sweetness Sunday night at the Culture Room ($12.50 at CultureRoom.net).
Any color you like: Laser Fest Weekend returns to the Miami Science Museum (3280 S. Miami Ave.) on Friday and Saturday, with music from the Beatles (“Sgt. Pepper”), Pink Floyd (“Dark Side”), Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead helping to remap your brain. Tickets are $8, in addition to the adult museum admission of $14.95. Info: MiamiSci.org, 305-646-4234.
Free Tito: Percussionist Tito Puente Jr., timbale magician and son of the mambo king, performs with his Latin jazz ensemble at Friday evening’s installment of the Jazz at MOCA outdoor concert series at the Museum of Contemporary Art (770 NE 125 St., North Miami). The free performances on the last Friday of the month also offer tours of MOCA galleries (by donation) from 7 to 10 p.m. Concert: 8 p.m. Info: MoCaNoMi.org, 305-893-6211.
Free reggae: More free outdoor music can be found at ArtsPark Live! on Young Circle in downtown Hollywood with a 9 p.m. Saturday performance of the Resolvers’ “big band reggae.” Info: HollywoodFL.org, 954-921-3404.
Looking ahead: The gently simmering PBS potboiler “Downton Abbey” returns for a third season on Jan. 6, with guest star Shirley MacLaine joining the impeccable cast. Local PBS affiliate WPBT-Ch. 2 will offer fans the chance to gather for an evening of camaraderie, contests and a big-screen showing of the “Downton Abbey” Season 3 premiere episode at Cinema Paradiso (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale). The get-together begins at 5:30 p.m. with a “Downton Abbey” hat contest and a trivia challenge, with prizes and free desserts, followed by the screening at 6:30 p.m. To join in, RSVP Kristina Guttierez of WPBT at 305-424-4025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.