No one says it better than Diddy himself--"Press Play is based on all my musical experiences - from the Uptown era, when I was working with Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, and Heavy D...to the Biggie, 112, Mase, Total, and No Way Out era. As time evolved, and I started traveling around the world and going into dance and techno clubs, I began to see music from a global point of view. It all came together on Press Play, all those sounds in my head. I've evolved, studied the game, been a part of it, had success. It all comes down to press play. After you press play, it's gonna make or break you in this game." A year in the making, Press Play finds Diddy joined by a who's who of contemporary artists and producers. Among the guest performers are: Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx, Big Boi, Brandi, Keyshia Cole, Nas, Fergie, Avant, and Pharoah Monch. Diddy was joined on the production side by the likes of Kanye West, Just Blaze, Pharrell Williams, Havoc from Mobb Deep, Will.I.Am, Rich Harrison, among others.
Sean "Diddy" Combs has spent so many years as an entertainment/fashion mogul and tabloid celebrity, that it's easy to forget that he also makes music. Press Play, his first album since 2001's The Saga Continues, is a reminder that whether he's named Puff, Puffy, or Diddy, Combs has a keen sense of what makes a good pop/hip-hop song but that he's also a middling rapper. Listening to Diddy rap in the same monotone flow he's had for years--not to mention his anemic songwriting--is a distracting sonic drag on an otherwise fluidly produced album. There are some excellent tracks, however. Mobb Deep deliver the dark and sinister "The Future" while Rich Harrison knocks out another vigorous workout of a beat for "Making It Hard." The best songs like "Everything I Love" (featuring Nas and Cee-Lo) and the fast, frenetic "Wanna Move" (with Big Boi, Ciara, and Scar) allow Diddy to play a secondary role rather than the main attraction. He's still a savvy mind behind the scenes, but there's not much gained in putting him in front of the mic. --Oliver Wang