It was mutual admiration –– not just savvy marketing –– that led rapper-songwriter-producer Pitbull to team up with another popular one-name performer, Ke$ha, for his summer tour.
"I love her music, I love her vibe," says Pitbull, who makes a stop on Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26, at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. "She's cool, she's fun, she's crazy, she's sexy –– who better than to do a tour with?"
If the combination helps expand Pitbull's audience, so be it, but that's not the Miami-based artist's primary motivation.
"I never worry about people's audiences," he says. "I've been on tour with so many different people, and so many different audiences. I think music is the universal language that brings everybody together. I think it's great for both audiences to meet."
Pitbull, who also is being joined by second opener Justice Crew, plans a high-energy performance, emphasizing hits such as "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)," "Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor)" "Don't Stop the Party," "Back in Time" and "Feel This Moment." The latter three come from his 2012 album, "Global Warming" (Mr.305/Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records).
"This is about having a good time –– it's summertime," he says. "It's all about energy - it's a non-stop show. It's almost like a DJ set –– for anyone who's never been to a Pitbull show, I definitely bring a lot of energy."
Energetic also seems like an apt way to sum up Pitbull's varied career. The Cuban-American performer over the past decade has become a worldwide hitmaker known for his collaborations with other artists. His latest album alone features contributions from Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira and Chris Brown, as well as Christina Aguilera, who sings on "Feel This Moment."
But Pitbull says there's no clear-cut formula to figuring out what works for other big-name talent.
"It's about creating great relationships with them, so when you do get a chance to work with them, it gives you a chance to (do it)," he says.
On his future wish list is a surprising choice, the late Cuban-born queen of salsa, Celia Cruz.
"With technology, I hope to do something with her voice, something fun that continues her legacy," he says.
His parents' birthplace also has provided fodder –– and a little controversy –– for a recent freestyle rap. After Jay-Z and Beyonce visited Cuba for their anniversary earlier this year, they were criticized by some for their visit, prompting Jay-Z to release an "Open Letter" rap defending the trip.
Pitbull, born Armando Perez, responded with his own "Open Letter" that sought to provide context about Cuba's complex history and concluded with a wish for the country to be free.
"My 'Open Letter' was to educate everybody about what went over in Cuba and why it's become so touchy," Pitbull says. "I hope Jay-Z and Beyonce enjoyed their anniversary down there. I'm a big fan of both Jay-Z and Beyonce. Sometimes people get caught up in things, and don't realize why they make a big deal out of it."
Pitbull visited Cuba once in 2001, and sees Havana regaining its place as a glittery tourist destination, but won't return to perform until political conditions change.
"The day I do, I guarantee you, will be historical," he says.
Like Jay-Z and other hip-hop stars, Pitbull has become a one-man brand, netting endorsement deals with Bud Light, Dr Pepper, Pepsi (Latin America) and Kodak.
He also has his own business interests, including a premium, low-calorie vodka called Voli; a chain of Miami-based sub shops; a portable speaker line from RockDoc; and Sheets dissolvable energy strips.
Pitbull also is part of the cast of "Epic," an animated feature film from 20th Century Fox that's scheduled to be released on Friday, May 24. He plays a frog named Bufo.
"It was different, but not difficult, since I live my life behind a mic," he says. "It was surprising and great to see your voice on a little character –– it makes you feel like a kid again."
So how does he feel about his new image as a frog?
"All the women can kiss me, and I'll turn into a prince," he says.
Whatever direction Pitbull's career takes, music will always be "the gasoline to the flame to the fire."
"Music will always create those priceless marketing dollars for anything you get involved with across the board, whether it's business, whether it's education ... whatever message you want to get to the world, music will be the way to do it," he says.
Ke$ha, Justice Crew to open for Pitbull
Opening for Pitbull is dance-pop star Ke$ha, below, who is touring behind her sophomore release, "Warrior" (Kemosabe/RCA).
The 2012 record marks a bit of a departure from Ke$ha's major label debut, by adding a harder edge to her '80s-influenced sound.
The wide range of guest artists on the album spans iconic rocker Iggy Pop, Nate Ruess of Fun., will.i.am, The Strokes and The Flaming Lips and Ke$ha's mother, Nashville-based songwriter Pebe Sebert.
The prolific Ke$ha's first record, "Animal," featured the hit single, "TiK ToK," and she also has released an EP, "Cannibal," and the "I Am the Dance Commander + Command You to Dance: The Remix Album."
Second opener Justice Crew is a hip-hop group from Australia that got signed by Sony after winning the fourth season of "Australia's Got Talent" in 2010.
The following year, the seven-member group released its debut record, "Justice Crew Party Mix."