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Why You Should Oct 24, 2006

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by Matt Clizbe and David Clizbe

Sean “Diddy” Combs is a man who always seems to know where he stands. He has been able to take on a long list of musical projects, feature credits and collaborations, contribute to hip hop’s influence on the fashion world, add a dash of his flavor to MTV’s reality television programming, all while emerging as a very large presence in the business world as the fly equivalent to Donald Trump. This can all be represented in the merging of his business endeavors into what has become known as the Bad Boy World Wide Entertainment Group.  David Letterman best described this conglomerate recently as “The Diddy Empire” and it is no joke. The “Diddy Empire” actually consists of Bad Boy Records, Sean John Clothing, Blue Flame Marketing and Advertising, Justin’s Soul food restaurants, and now his first look TV production deal with MTV Networks, each effort showing the success and drive that Diddy himself consistently brings to the table.

Here is the complete track listing for Press Play

When managing five very different businesses it is very hard to make strides in any one particular field large enough to notice. So people may have been wondering where is the man who said “I told you that we won’t stop.” Well he hasn’t stopped. He has been preparing for the launch of a new Bad Boy dynasty. Behind this dynasty are up and coming acts like Young Joc, Myspace favorite Cassie, and platinum reality TV recording artists Danity Kane. This dynasty needs a leader and who better to carry the Bad Boy flag into battle than the man himself, Diddy. He has recorded what will be Bad Boy’s new flagship project and to experience it, just whip out the ipod, or the old fashioned CD player and just “Press Play.”

The wording of the last sentence is not a coincidence that is the name of the album. And according to the press following this new album, pressing play is all that anyone will need to do, aside from enjoying it from start to finish. While many of his younger counterparts are getting Crunk, Diddy returns to his roots giving his fans a taste of the Uptown Records feel good music for the new millennium. The southern oriented rap music, Crunk, in a sense is pretty heavy, consisting of a lot of aspects to give an overall feeling of party based aggression, the mosh-pit equivalent to hip hop. While Crunk has evolved to earn its role in the hip hop community, this type of aggressive music has not made its way onto Diddy’s new album. In some ways it is also a far cry from some of the pop gangsta rap that earned Diddy his fame. All that has been put aside and Diddy has put his focus towards music that his listeners can dance to enjoy. Sean Combs, while at the time going by the nickname Puffy, originally became known for his ability to craft artist’s sounds into a harmonized blend of hip hop and r&b soul which he would then coin as hip hop soul. This hip hop soul with an electronica update for the new millennium is what can be found on the record Press Play.

One thing that has been said in reviews is that his approach is “fake.” But this could not be further from the truth. Every aspect of Press Play indicates the thoughts and influences of a music loving, money making business man that’s just letting you know where he is in his life. The only difference, while some of his peers may write books, he makes a CD. The album even starts like an audio book with a “Testimonial” prologue Tears for Fears sample of “Head Over Heels” that introduces Press Play to the listener giving his thoughts and experiences connecting his previous work to today, something that should be heard by anyone who knew him from the past.

The music promptly begins with the sound of “We Gon Make It,” a song of celebration and reflection that features his protege, Jack Knight. At first listen it is comparably similar to Jay Z’s “What More Can I Say.” The cool blend of horns and percussion depicts a scene of a boxer entering a ring ready to light someone up. He comes out with a high energy recollection of past dramas and survivals that easily blends into track three, “I am.” The competitive spirit is continued with “I am” and although it is listed as an interlude, it seems to be an artistic extension of the previous song. When the first two tracks are listened to together along with “The Future” and “Hold Up,” it creates an electric mix of musical approaches that celebrates what Mr. Combs feels what it means to be Diddy.

As soon as the first few notes of Press Play‘s lead single “Come to Me” are heard the entire mood of the album changes. He drops the hard competitive vibe found in the first four songs, and from then on it’s all about feel good music. As the rhythmic beat begins to take over, monikers and facades slowly peal away and the excited, energetic, vulnerable, and real Sean Combs is revealed. An example of this revelation is found in the track “Tell Me.” Stylistically it takes on the hip hop duet vibe with Christina Aguilera that is reminiscent of what Timbaland and Nelly Furtado accomplished with “Promiscuous.” Amongst the rhythmic beat, there is a vulnerability that follows him throughout the rest of Press Play that may be a hint as to why this has been said to be his last album. Everything about Press Play brings about the phrase “grown and sexy” showing that he is more mature but still loves to get his groove on. He shows this maturity by experimenting with some different styles of music. Found in “Diddy Rock,” the electronica experimentation presents itself as a European rave sound with hip hop flow that has just enough sexual heat and intense rhythm to get everyone in the club dancing regardless of who they are. That vibe continues on throughout the rest of Press Play with some other considerably experimental records that include techno hip hop beats as well as sensitive lyrics. Within this one album Diddy takes the listener from the persona that he once was, a Bad Boy for life with a not guilty but filthy attitude, to a man with a renewed focus on family, music and fun. Press Play is an impressive melodic blend from start to finish. Music lovers of all types should listen to it at least once. It definitely gives some thought towards the future of hip hop and Bad Boy Records.

PESS PLAY (Bad Boy Records)

1 – “Testimonial” (Intro)
2 – “We Gon’ Make It” Featuring Jack Knight
3 – “I Am” (Interlude)
4 – “The Future
5 – “Hold Up
6 – “Come To Me” Featuring Nicole Scherzinger
7 – “Tell Me” Featuring Christina Aguilera
8 – “Wanna Move” Featuring Ciara, Big Boi & Scar
9 – “Diddy Rock” Featuring Timbaland, Twista & Shawnna
10 – “Claim My Place” (Interlude) Featuring Avant
11 – “Everything I Love” Featuring Nas, & Cee-Lo
12 – “Special Feeling” Featuring Mika Lett
13 – “Crazy Thing” (Interlude) Featuring S. Rosete
14 – “After Love” Featuring Keri Hillson
15 – “Through The Pain (She Told Me)” Featuring Mario Winans
16 – “Thought You Said” Featuring Brandy
17 – “Last Night” Featuring Keyshia Cole
18 – “Making It Hard” Featuring Mary J. Blige
19 – “Partners For Life” Featuring Jamie Foxx