Half unintentional clown, half genuinely savvy impresario, Pitbull has been ascendant over the last decade, an arc that mirrors the rise of the kind of dance-friendly, boozily anesthetized rap he manufactures. Coming off his appearance/co-writing credit on Jennifer Lopez’s smash “On the Floor,” he further establishes himself as the Diddy of Miami with his sixth effort, a collection of big-star appearances and shimmery beats that’s also one of the laziest albums of the year. Planet Pit is a loud, disjointed mess, recalling a hellish, sweltering club, the stink of sweat and Axe body spray thick in the air.
It may also be constructive to compare the album to a brightly colored cocktail, made, of course, with Voli vodka (Pit’s brand, which he reps here, cementing the feel of an endless string of cross-promotions). It’s somehow both too sweet and too strong, with a taste of in-your-face sexuality that plays cute, but generally comes off as sleazy. None of the individual qualities that poison Planet Pit are that terrible, they’re just so wretchedly mixed, with such a haphazard eye toward cohesion that it becomes chokingly awful. And despite his unsavory presence, there’s barely even enough of Pitbull to qualify as this being his own album; he’s more a detached master of ceremonies. He raps so infrequently, often handing songs over to singers and guests, that the album feels like a producer’s showcase rather than a rapper’s.
Pitbull may share Diddy’s business acumen, but he lacks even his rudimentary charisma and warmth. He seems disinterested in the presentation of the songs, and his depiction of himself as a consummate Latin lover, ready to rap in Spanish as smoothly as in English, wilts under the flow of all this Auto-Tuned sludge, trite dance beats, and maddening sing-song hooks.
It doesn’t help that so much of this supposedly sexy patter is so patently ridiculous. By the time “Where Do We Go” breaks down into an extended chant of “If you’re sexy and you know it, clap your hands,” the album has already long plunged into cartoonish excess. “Pause” has a serviceable beat, but never builds momentum. There’s a seemingly endless procession of soft-filthy imprecations, with Pitbull spitting out gems like “I’m such a dirty dog/My teeth’ll snap your bra.” He mostly excels at being a middling creep, but isn’t able to translate that into any kind of strong presence, which is a far worse sin, damning the whole thing to the realm of the inoffensively boring.
Planet Pit suffers in the same way as Jamie Foxx’s similarly themed Best Night of My Life, which was equally silly, but worked because it was carefully calibrated and had Foxx as a personable anchor. In the hands of Foxx, who shows up here on “Where Do We Go,” pap like “International Love,” a track about bedding women all around the world, might have felt convincing. As delivered by Pitbull and Chris Brown, it feels juvenile and boastful, a puerile fantasy with zero appeal. A little bit of charisma probably wouldn’t have saved Planet Pit from disaster, but it might have helped.