Local Wire

Diddy

The Bad Boy roster closed the millennium spitting lyrics over an inane series of '80s classics, a movement that screamed of selling out. However, No Way Out, Diddy's 1997 vanity-rap debut, went seven times platinum on the strength of the Bowie-sampling "Been Around the World." Indeed, the man has always had a vision for hip-pop. A decade later, Press Play is still more pop than rap, but its definition of what's a hook is infinitely wider and a whole lot more interesting. Diddy hits everything from Paisley Park ("Special Feeling") to pseudo-drum-'n'-bass ("Thought You Said"), while tracks with Timbaland ("Diddy Rock"), Big Boi ("Wanna Move"), and Nas ("Everything I Love") cover the breadth of rap. Diddy even gets self-referential, rapping over some obvious Tears for Fears on "Testimonial (Intro)." Of course, Press Play is only as good as its guest list, but since the disc includes Brandy, Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige, Rich Harrison, and Twista, it's pretty damn good.
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Andrew Friedman