MIAMI—In a further sign that the sluggish economic recovery continues to pose a challenge to the nation’s workforce, a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that a growing number of Americans have had to resort to collaborating on songs with Cuban-American rapper Pitbull in order to make ends meet.
The paper, which attributed its findings to stagnant wages and lackluster job growth, confirmed that many poor and middle-class Americans have little choice but to pick up additional work with the chart-topping recording artist, often by contributing backing vocals, writing lyrics, producing Latin-infused beats, or repeatedly shouting the name “Pitbull” in studio sound booths as a means of providing for their families in this challenging economic climate.
“Since the stock market crash and housing sector collapse in 2008, we’ve seen a staggering increase in the number of Americans who are putting in long, demanding hours behind the mixing console with hip-hop sensation Pitbull,” said economist Jared Coan, lead author of the report. “While in decades past a single salary was enough to support a family of four, we are now finding that many breadwinners, out of financial necessity, are seeking out additional work laying down guest verses on dance-rap studio tracks like ‘Timber’ or any one of a number of its club mixes.”
“Most of these people are working a full day at their 9-to-5 jobs and then heading right into the RCA Records studio to program electronic drums for a Pitbull–Rick Ross collaboration until the early morning,” Coan continued. “Then, if they’re lucky, they have time to grab a couple hours of sleep before waking up the next day and doing it all over again.”
Faced with mounting credit card debt, surging health care costs, and in many cases pricey college tuition for their children, citizens across the country are feeling compelled to supplement their take-home pay by joining Pitbull—also known as Mr. Worldwide—on recording dates and the occasional live performance on the Planet Pit World Tour, Coan said. Specifically, survey data indicate that tens of thousands of Americans—from cashiers and food service workers, to those in formerly solid middle-class jobs, like automotive workers and insurance salespeople—have to juggle their day jobs with playing claves on a Spanish-language version of “Hotel Room Service,” spitting freestyle bars alongside guest hip-hop artists such as Flo Rida and T-Pain, and gesticulating toward the camera while filming a music video for “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” or “Maldito Alcohol.”
Furthermore, the report found that many single parents are having to balance their family obligations with the financial necessity of working late nights arranging diss tracks directed against Lil’ Wayne just to put food on the table, a trend that Coan called “all too typical” in the current economy.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve seen a steady decline in real median household income in the United States, which corresponds with an equally sharp rise in the number of Americans finding samples for bouncing, house-music-inspired dance hall songs, such as ‘Don’t Stop the Party’ or all the singles off the Meltdown EP,” Coan said. “And given that rent payments and food and transportation costs have only risen, it appears these individuals will simply have to continue putting in full days at one job and then immediately don white linen suits and open-collar dress shirts so they can shoot a Bud Light commercial alongside Pitbull and his entourage.”
When surveyed, most Americans confirmed they had few economic options, and stated that rapping alongside Pitbull was simply something they had to do to scrape by. However, many pointed to the unfulfilling and arduous nature of their efforts, with only a small minority of the respondents saying they receive health insurance or producer credits for their exhausting work with the Latin-American hip-hop artist.
“Between my job at a home improvement store, painting houses on the weekends, and shouting ‘Miami Beach’ through an Auto-Tune filter until I’m hoarse, I’m barely keeping my head above water,” said 42-year-old Michael Erickson of Scottsdale, AZ, who noted that he’s grateful to even have the opportunity to pick up a handful of hours with Pitbull every week given the amount of musical collaboration work that lately has gone to overseas workers or Pharrell. “Clocking out of my regular job at 5 and then flying off to Las Vegas to serve as Pitbull’s hype man at the Billboard Music Awards isn’t easy, but it’s just a sacrifice I have to make if I have any chance of paying off my mortgage.”
“It’s hard—I come home late every night soaked in champagne and I’m just too exhausted to spend time with my kids,” he continued. “But the fact is that I’m doing this so that someday they won’t have to.”