Whether you know him as Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy or Diddy, one thing has been evident about him. He has the ability to take songs and make them into entirely new hip-hop jams. Diddy is the creator of the multi-million dollar industry known as Bad Boy Entertainment.
Diddy began Bad Boy out of his apartment in the early 90’s after being fired from Uptown Records. Once he signed artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack Bad Boy took off unto the music scene. His success with Bad Boy opened the way for him to produce for artists like Aretha Franklin, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, TLC, SWV and Lil’ Kim. Diddy decided to branch out as an artist after having great success on the production side. In 1998, he released his solo debut album “No Way Out,” which reached number one on the charts and was also certified platinum several times. Between the release of “No Way Out” and his latest release “Press Play,” Diddy has seen his share of controversy and ups and downs. He is now prepared to make a come back.
Or at least those were his intentions. I’m not sure what’s going on, on “Play.” The album features more big artists than most records labels will every have. An album with Christina Aguilera, Brandy, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Nichole Schringer (Pussycat Dolls), Mario Winans, Mary J. Blidge, Nas, Keiysha Cole, Big Boi, Ciara, Jamie Foxx, Will.I.am (Black Eyed Peas), Kanye West and Ceelo (Goodie Mob, Gnarles Barkley), should be overflowing with hit after hit, but instead only delivers confusion. If it was not for the help of the teaming list of talent, the album wouldn’t be as good. The best songs on the album are good because of the contributions. “Tell Me” has Aguilera’s power vocals. “Come to me,” which features Scherzinger, brings a light that Diddy alone cannot shed. “Everything I Love” is a track that brings hope where only mystery resided. With Nas and Ceelo bringing their eclectic styles to the table. “Everything” is a well-made track.
The entire feel is different. The beats are new and mirror the classic remix style that Diddy is most known for. Usually Diddy delivers a lyrical lull in his rhymes but now most of his time is spent rhyming like a storyteller. Along with these changes, is the evident influence of electronica/music. “Wanna Move” features Big Boi and Ciara and sounds like a video game while “Special Feeling” sounds like it’s straight from a Prince album from the 80’s. “Diddy Rock” travels back to the pop-locking days where the “Kool Kats” resided on the corners break dancing on a cardboard box. The mix of hip-hop and dance music worked perfectly all right until “Thought You Said,” which features Brandy. Is it hip-hop? Is it electronica? Is it “electronihop?”
Plain and simple, the album provokes little interest. The incentive to keep listening just isn’t there. It’s not a horrid release; it’s just that there isn’t a word to describe it. Either Diddy is on the verge of creating the next step in the evolution of music, or he has lost his mind. Somewhere in between the two lies this album. Listen to this album. Some will love it and say, “Its Bad Boy baby, we can’t be stopped. Aha. Aha.” Others will just flat out burn it then run over it with a steamroller. It looks like you’re just going to have to “Press Play” to choose which one you’re going to do.