Pitbull, aka Mr. Worldwide, is coming to America’s birthplace to celebrate America’s birthday.
Ever since Wawa Welcome America stopped having The Roots curate the festival, there’ve been rumbles that the lineup hasn’t been as good, but there couldn’t be a more appropriate (or exciting) choice to kick off this year’s July 4 spectacle.
A Grammy-award winning reggaetonero, entrepreneur, rapper, motivational speaker, record producer, entertainer and philanthropist, Pitbull is a true Renaissance man. He rose from humble beginnings as the child of Cuban immigrants in Miami to become a star who consistently tops the charts with flair.
He can also effortlessly rhyme “Kodak” with “Kodak,” so there’s that.
Could Pitbull, with his worldliness, resourcefulness, baldness and penchant for booty, be our modern-day Ben Franklin?
Oookay, maybe that’s a stretch. Nevertheless, this is a man — a scholarly man — who belongs in Philadelphia. For a city whose growth has been boosted by a steady influx of immigrants from Central and South America and Puerto Rico, Pitbull is a solid symbol of unity and progress.
And catchy bilingual bops, sure. But that idyllic American dream? Pitbull achieved it.
Born Armando Christian Pérez, he grew up in Little Havana with a single mother. As a teen, he was briefly sent to live with a foster family in Georgia. He barely made it out of high school, but despite the odds stacked against him, he did. His songs may not be lyrically profound, but he has brought Latin influence to the American rap scene. Plus, he has number one hits in over 15 countries, nine billion YouTube/VEVO views, 70 million single sales and six million album sales.
At the culminating July 4 concert of the Wawa Welcome America fest, which this year has the theme “The Feeling is Revolutionary,” Pitbull will be joined by Grammy-award-winning singer Heather Headley and the Philly POPS Big Band. The rest of the lineup has yet to be released.
This is relatively early for the headliner to be set; last year’s announcement that Mary J. Blige would lead the ticket was set out on April 21. Asked what led to the early news, a Welcome America spokesperson said simply “Talent was finalized earlier this year.”
Like last year (and all the years before it), the concert will be entirely free. Even if it’s not the largest free concert in the world, that’s a cool thing — three fist pumps for (free)dom. The show begins at 7 PM. After the music is the fireworks display, which a release says will be the biggest in a decade.
Philly: We about to climb, wild, ’cause it’s about to go down.
Preceding Mr. Worldwide’s production and the pyrotechnic extravaganza, Philadelphians and visitors will be able to partake in 49 other free events from June 28 to July 4. Last year, those events included museum days, parades and block parties. Details of what’s happening this year haven’t been divulged yet, but we’ll keep you posted.