Pitbull recently detailed his rise to success on VH1’s Behind the Music. The special follows the 30-year-old’s rough beginnings in Miami to his chart-topping success today.

Born Armando Christian Perez, MTV News reports that Pitbull found solace in “hip-hop (as well as hustling) at an early age.”

“A lot of bad s–t happened,” he said.

But that all changed once his high school teacher saw him perform.

“One day during lunch I see that a group of people have gathered and when there’s a group of people gathered it’s typically a fight,” Hope Martinez recalled.

It wasn’t a fight. Instead, Pitbull was found rapping in a crowd 100 people deep.

“He was amazing. To think that one could come up with the lyrics on the spot blew my mind,” Martinez said.

Later, she heard of a casting call for a DMX music video and garnered him a spot on the set. When Pitbull arrived he found himself surrounded by DMX’s crew where he and Ruff Ryders’ Drag-On got into a battle.

“Everyone . . . the Ruff Ryders were like, ‘This guy is nasty!’ Not only did this dude hold his own, he got in the ring and he won,” Irv Gotti said.

After he won the rap battle, 17-year-old Pitbull was told the he had to learn how to make songs.

“I started writing since that day forward. That’s basically how it all started forming,” he said.

“He channeled the pain from his absentee father and life struggles into battle rapping. It was here, where his friend gave him the moniker ‘Pitbull’ because of his fearless disposition,” MTV News writes.

Soon after his first track fell into 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell’s hands.

“I saw something in the kid at that time and I knew that he was going to be something special,” Campbell said. So, in 2001 he signed Pitbull to a record deal. Touring for the first time, Campbell had Pitbull traveling to the South and challenging local rappers to battle him.

Pitbull soon found fans and supporters in the industry, including Lil Jon. “Pit is killing it in English and Spanish. That was crazy because I hadn’t really heard any Spanglish records like that,” Lil Jon said.

For more on Pitbull’s rise to fame, visit VH1.

– Annie Reuter CBS Local


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