El Mariel

Artist: PitbullTitle: El MarielRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli

Anyone who has either read or watched an interview with Pitbull knows

that the Miami Cubano is light years wiser than the music he creates.

So when an MC who has the ear of the universe releases a record titled

El Mariel (TVT), it's assumed that he has finally risen to the occasion of

crafting the high quality music he is capable of creating.

Disappointingly, El Mariel sketches a drawing that barely measures up

to the intense political undertones of the album title.

Known for perversely catchy dance tracks like "Culo," "Toma," and

"Damnit Man," Pitbull became a club fixture from the moment he set

foot in the industry. Under the tutelage of Lil Jon, Mr. 305 cornered

a previously non-existent Latin Crunk market. El Mariel falls nothing

short of the typical ass-shakin' music Pitbull is notorious for, with

the occasional message of substance sprinkled in the mix.

The misleading intro is a spoken word piece by Def Poetry alum Will Da Real One emphasizing

Miami life beyond the neon lights of South Beach. All passion fades

into oblivion once songs like "Jealouso," "Ay Chico," and "Descardo,"

roll around, as the club-worthy tracks laden with sex and

chest-thumping riddims maintain Pitbull's signature style. "Fuego"

samples the classic "When I Hear Music" beat with a dry interpolation

of the original's hook. The single "Mr. Bojangles" is catchy enough,

and Lil Jon borrows his "Lovers and Friends" beat to remix "Díme." The

animalistic "Jungle Water" featuring the horrific howlings of Wyclef

could have easily been saved for a free download- not an accessory to

an excessively long album.

El Mariel isn't without some degree of talented sentiment, as "Blood is

Thicker Than Water" and "Raindrops" reveal governmental flaws mixed

with some incredibly personal aspects of Pitbull's life in dealing with

his family and street life. The stories told aren't half as depressing

as knowing that Pitbull doesn't always rhyme to his fullest potential.

If Pitbull's agenda with El Mariel is to prepare his fans for future

political projects, then only time will tell if he's truly succeeded.

Still, beneath his ability to make you dance, it's refreshing to know

that Pitbull has the ammo within to evolve into a serious lyricist.