Months ago, Cuban-American rapper Pitbull had an idea for a song contemplating Fidel Castro’s death. He wrote a verse or so and let it sit there. But on the night of July 31st, after the Cuban government announced that power was being turned over to Castro’s brother Raoul, Pitbull went straight to a Miami studio at 11 p.m. and cut a song called “Ya Se Acabo (It’s Over),” then posted it on his Myspace page. (Hear it here.) Overnight, the song became the anthem of the anti-Castro movement.
It’s been in heavy rotation on Miami radio and already had more than 77,000 listens on his MySpace page within a week of its release. The track features two verses in Spanish and one in English, including such lines as: “It’s like a dream / now people can be free/no more 90 mile trips to the Keys/no more risking your life for freedom / I’m hoping he’s dead because we don’t need him.” Pitbull says he was inspired to record the song by seeing his fellow Cubans dancing in the streets of Miami that night. He was at a friend’s house in Little Havana enjoying a home cooked meal when he heard the news. “This woman came in the room screaming ‘turn on the TV!,'” he says. “The last time I heard that, it was my mom on September 11.”
Minutes later, the 23-year-old rapper went outside and saw the Miami neighborhood exploding with joy, honking horns, waving flags and chanting. “There were people on every corner,” he says. “It looked like the Heat won the championship all over again. It was a source of inspiration. They set up stages with people playing bongos, everything.”
“Ya Se Acabo” is a marked departure for Pitbull, who is best known for less insightful club songs such as “Bojangles,” a raunchy ode to posteriors. For him, it’s a welcome change. “All the records before were about partying and being fresh and slick and all that,” says the rapper. “This will put me on a different level. I’ll have to assume a kind of leadership position. Whatever I have to get involved with, I’m gonna do it.” His new album, “El Mariel”, out September 12, is named for the site in Florida where over 125,000 Cuban immigrants landed in 1980.
Pitbull predicts that an announcement of Castro’s death would bring on a chaotic, but celebratory scene. “As far as taking the island back, for sure you’re gonna have people jumping on boats, headed to Cuba,” he says. “For sure I’ll be on a boat. I’ll be the first one out there.”