Artist: DiddyTitle: Press PlayRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
This one's harder than you think. Many Hip-Hop enthusiasts see Diddy as an easy villain to blame for the commercial "setbacks" that rap music has endured over the past one and a half decades. With his latest album, Press Play (Bad Boy/Atlantic), Diddy is schooling his harshest critics in Hip-Hop Mogulism 101. This whole rap movement has never been about good versus evil. The same man who could unabashedly bring cheesy 80's remakes to living rooms across the world is the same man who could introduce you to one of the greatest lyricists ever to walk the planet.
Press Play celebrates the Hip-Hop formula, not the Hip-Hop craft. If a song needs that thought provoking sixteen like Diddy spits in "Hold Up", then hire your man Pharoahe Monch to ghostwrite for you. If a song needs citizens in Kentucky to tune in, why not have a crossover session with Louisville's very own Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls. "Wanna Move" is for the ATLiens, "Diddy Rock" is for the stripper pole, and there's a Mary J. Blige joint. Lucky for Diddy, the collaboration is more important than the title of the song. The first half of Press Play has the haters running for the foxholes cause Diddy is coming with some darn good gunpowder.
"First half" is the operative word. The bottom half of Press Play starts to drag on after a while. Diddy's ego can be measured in musical minutes and it is indeed 19 tracks long. Of the five plus R&B duets that Diddy presents on the CD, only two, the Neptunes mapped "Partners for Life" featuring Jamie Foxx and "Make It Hard" the aforementioned Mary J. Blige joint should have made the first string. Nevertheless, the there are plenty of joints that will warrant repreated listening, including the snazzy, Kanye West produced "Everything I Love" featuring Cee-Lo and Nas, and the fresh, K-Def produced, "Shaft in Africa" snipping "We Gon' Make It" featuring Jack Knight.
If anyone knows the economics of Hip-Hop, it's Diddy. At the end of the day, the ingredients to a dope CD don't need to be cooked only bought, and a rich chef like Diddy deftly assembles them all. Not to say Diddy can't rap (That "Potential to be the first black president/Itunes download me in every resident" line is pretty hard), but Press Play is more of a success of Diddy the commissioner, than Diddy the artist.