After ten albums, Pitbull's rapping style and love of party anthems is well-known to any fan of Latin pop and/or hip-hop. Libertad 548 is at once a continuation, and an expansion of his well-established party M.O. The cover photo is of his late father, Armando Perez, Sr., who spirited 548 Cubans to freedom during the Marielle Boatlift of 1980; hence the title. A period photo, it was captured during the mass exodus from Cuba's Mariel Harbor when more than 10,0000 Cubans and Haitians made their way to Florida's shores. This is Pitbull's first independently released offering after more than a decade with the majors. The 15-song set (on the physical version) was co-produced by the artist with IAmChino, Jorge Gomez, and Jimmy Joker. Appearing on his Mr. 305 label -- a division of his just-launched multicultural marketing agency 305 Worldwide -- it's an opening volley from the bulwarks of the rapper's wide-angle musical aesthetic, and it's more diverse than anything he's attempted before.
Opener "Winning" (ft. Yomil y El Dany) is old-school boom bap. Pitbull drives his skittering, bass-bumping groove and carries Miami on his back to the world with boisterous help from the swaggering Cuban reggaeton duo. The chart-topping advance single "No Lo Trates" (ft. Natti Natasha and Daddy Yankee) weds carnival and reggaeton rhythms in a joyous demonstration of punchy, hooky, new school Caribbean groove. "3 to Tango" juxtaposes montuno and horn-drenched Caribbean salsa to Argentinian dance music. "Happy Mama Day" (ft. Chacal and Sky Monroe) is a propulsive party jam with kicking beats, percussive chants, entwined female voices, and hip, syncopated samples from Blackbox's "Everybody, Everybody" in the chorus. "Get Ready" (ft. Blake Shelton) threads a sample of Ram Jam's "Black Betty" through fiery, old-school Miami rap and 21st century urbano (in English). In "Mala," Becky G rubs bumping dancehall against loopy electro-cumbia and a sample from Beenie Man's "Romie" into a sultry, steamy mix. Prince Royce's sweet, sensual singing voice glides through the first verse of the sexy babymaker "Tell Me Again," with Ludacris and Pitbull trading raps behind and around him. The brittle bass drops in "Ocupado," a reggaeton anthem, offer strident boasts and encouragement with Flo Rida and El Dany. Closer "Cantare" (ft. Lenier) is dancefloor reggaeton with the melodic backdrop of "Volare" loping through carnival drums, sampled choruses, and dubby hip-hop. Libertad 548 is free of musical filler. Pitbull's in full control delivering an album of killer songs that balance levity and substance, beautifully chosen samples, expert writing, and a smoking collection of beats from a wide array of inspired sources. This is arguably Pitbull's strongest recording since 2011's Planet Pit.