Diddy. It’s a name that everyone knows and relates to multiple things– Biggie, Sean John, Rich, Bad Boy, commercialization of Hip Hop, biter, Vote or Die, etcetera. He’s been in the game for years, and whether you like him or not, Diddy has made his mark. We all know Diddy is a businessman. We all know what Diddy is, how he got there and where he came from. We also know that Diddy doesn’t write rhymes. So what exactly is Diddy’s latest (and possibly final) offering, Press Play? A lesson in Narcissism 101.
What Diddy delivers in Press Play is a bad version of Hip Hop Karaoke….for 19 long ass songs. When it comes to hip-hop, Diddy is a “swagger jacker,” if there ever was one. There is no such thing as earning respect when Diddy can pay for it. Remember that Dave Chappelle “Making The Band” sketch? Well, it certainly comes to fruition here as Diddy does nothing but pay someone to write his rhymes and make his beats. All he has to do is read the words as they go across the screen (just like Karaoke). Only difference is that when Diddy needs a hot 16 bars, he has some of the best in the biz at his disposal. But the question is…. can he say it right?
The ultimate swagger jack comes in the form of “The Future”, where Diddy channels the writing, the flow and even the annunciation of ghostwriter Pharoahe Monch. With a gritty beat from Havoc, Diddy does his best Pharoahe impersonation to results that range from “WTF” to “Why”. While it is well know that Diddy “doesn’t write rhymes, he writes checks,” the problem is that when the rhymes are written for him, his delivery is so wretched and stale that he ultimately ruins the song. You know that person that sings in the shower and swears they sound good? That’s Diddy. But he’s rich, so who’s gonna tell him he can’t rap? This happens more often than not on Press Play. When he isn’t butchering Pharoahe’s style again on “Hold Up”. he’s running Nas’ style into the ground on the Kanye produced “Everything I Love”, which features a passionate Cee-Lo on the hook. While it’s obvious that Nas wrote Diddy’s verse, you can’t help but feel that this track would be so much better with just Nas and Cee-Lo. It’s just that many of the songs would be better if the person who wrote them, performed them.
While some songs just flat out stink and are too long for their own good, there are other moments that are just indefinable. Diddy channels a few “Prince Moments” where the production sounds harkens those trademark drums that Prince made famous in the early 80′s. The problem? These songs are just lame as hell. “Special Feeling” featuring Mike Lett has got to be one of the cheesiest songs ever. Although Keyshia Cole does her best to put raw emotion into “Last Night”, Diddy’s lame-isms are just overbearing and the song clocks in at a whopping 6:26. Overkill anyone?
Press Play is self indulgence at its absolute finest. Clocking in at a ridiculous 79 minutes (just under the length that you can actually put on a CD), Diddy continues time and time again to praise himself to the point that it is nauseating. It’s one thing to hear one or two songs about how rich Diddy is, but to even elaborate on 3 minute skits about himself (the Avant assisted “Claim My Place”) is just too over the top.
Although nobody should be surprised that Diddy can’t rap, the thing that is most surprising is that Diddy can’t even execute one good song on Press Play, despite the fact that he has some of the most talented people in the industry doing 90% of the work for him. No Way Out had its moments, as did Forever. This album is just too much. He tries to make his formula work, but alas, the beats are underwhelming and his concepts are dry. So his lack of rhyming is even more evident than before and for that reason most listeners will instead choose to Press Eject.
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