CD Review of Press Play by Diddy

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Press Play
starhalf starno starno starno star Label: Bad Boy
Released: 2006
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Diddy’s back. Did he ever go away? No, but this is his first “solo” album since 1999. However, it’s hardly a solo venture when the guest list on the album includes the following: Jack Knight, Nicole Scherzinger, Christina Aguilera, Big Boi, Ciara, Scar, Timbaland, Twista, Shawnna, Avant, Nas, Cee-Lo, Mika Lett, S. Rosete, Keri, Mario Winans, Brandy, Keysha Cole, Mary J. Blige, and Jamie Foxx. It’s almost like a Circus of the Stars of the rap, hip-hop, and R&B world! Why so much help, Diddy? Well, one listen to the dude’s flat rap deliveries and you can understand why he needs other people to make him sound good.

But Diddy’s always been a pimp. Moreso than Snoop Dogg or 50 Cent or any of those dudes for whom pimping is an outright part of their act. Diddy’s a far dirtier pimp in the way he samples and recycles familiar hits and barely changes them into something “new.” He pimps out himself and his parties whenever possible. He continues to pimp out the memory of Biggie Smalls. He pimps out whatever talent he can find by turning it into bland TV fodder for MTV. And now he’s pimping out his new CD, which he claims is a leap forward for the rap world by incorporating elements of techno and other club sounds he’s been absorbing for a while now.

The problem is that Press Play is just another Diddy disc. He might be great at being a pimped-out mogul, but his raps and music aren’t much to brag about. Still, he brags on, especially in the track “The Future” where he reveals his goal to become president, or starts drawing comparisons between himself and Jay-Z (yeah, right) on “I Am (interlude).” For Diddy it’s still very much all about the Benjamins and not very much about the reality. But Diddy’s always created his own alternate reality in which he can get guys like Sting and Jimmy Page to sell their souls to the almighty dollar in exchange for raping their tunes.

But back to the present. Is it worth mentioning that Diddy’s still capable of such dumb lyrics as “Chicks will make a nigga’s dick hard like a Guinness”? Well if not, just dig into the sleaze that is “Hold Up.” But these moments mentioned so far have been all about Diddy by himself. What about Diddy and his cast of thousands? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that Mary J. Blige owns “Making It Hard,” or that Christina Aguilera may as well be doing it without Diddy on “Tell Me.” And when he actually tries to sing on “Last Night” with Keyshia Cole, the results are embarrassingly appalling.

And so it goes. Diddy gets to whore out other people to prop him up to make him “look good.” As if dragging yourself through the pictures in the CD’s booklet aren’t enough (shots of Diddy with a mostly naked chick; shots of Diddy dry humping said chick against a wall; Diddy’s hand on the chick’s crotch in the tray liner photo). For Diddy, it’s always been more about the image than the music. The guy can’t rap, he can’t sing, and he’s forever stuck in the past giving lip service to Cristal instead of doing anything with his “talents.” Press Play is hardly anything forward-moving. And at 19 tracks it’s just too damned long. But that’s Diddy for ya. Always about the excess and never knowing when to be economical with his money or his time. Has there ever been a bigger charlatan in the rap world? It’s hard to say when faced with Diddy’s ever-growing pile of evidence against him.

~Jason Thompson