Apparently according to Diddy, ‘love is a motherfucker’.
Glad we cleared that up.
I’m rather conflicted about Diddy, there’s no question that somewhere in his head there’s a keen lump of grey matter. I mean lets be fair the man has built a considerable empire that has long since expanded beyond the realms of music. The man has branched into fashion design, has made his name as a record producer, dabbled in acting and even has his own cologne (which may or may not smell like Lynx, I don’t know).
Yet for some reason to me whenever he opened his mouth whether it be in the press or on record he has always come across sounding like a bit of a dick. So imagine my delight when I heard that he had cobbled together something of a hip hop supergroup with him at the helm and a rotating cast beneath him. Yes I was ecstatic…
However to my surprise It’s that same line up of guest stars that actually make things a little more interesting than the norm. I mean kicking off with a cameo from Grace Jones is fairly impressive even if I couldn’t tell it was her. The production values are high (as you might expect, even his weakest stuff is polished) it also walks away from the traditional hip hop musical values and actually strays into broader territory. Three tracks in and he’s having a little mumble about how he ‘knows how to love’ over a delicious piano driven house track. Shut up Diddy, you’ve crafted a decent backdrop here, don’t fuck it up.
Further in there’s evidence that Diddy has been listening to Major Lazer records because there’s a fairly percussion friendly ‘Pon Da Floor’ knock off lurking amidst proceedings. If only it could all be like this because in the places where he lets people like Usher into play (is it just me or does he always come across like a dangerous sex pest?) it becomes very formulaic with its auto tuned lyrics about sharking for lasses and fizzy pop backdrops. Thankfully inventive tracks like ‘Someone To Love Me’ with its early 70’s reggae stylings alleviate the pain of such occurrences.
Elsewhere Chris Brown turns up waxing lyrical about how he cant get rid of his girlfriend (here’s a clue Chris, try not hitting her). Then we have cameos from Lil Wayne and even Justin Timberlake (I thought he had retired to sit on the settee eating biscuits and watching daytime telly but apparently not). Strangely its the big name tracks where things start to wobble. Lyrically it drifts into borderline ridiculous territory. For example on ‘Shades’ Justin talks about how he knows he has a ‘lot of baggage’ (mate, you’re trying to chat someone up, not get on Jeremy Kyle) and its ‘for the ladies and mercedes’ (eh?).There’s even a track with Notorious B.I.G on it. Not being funny or anything but are we actually sure he’s dead? I mean the lad’s busier now than before he was buried.
Tracks like ‘Strobe Lights’ show a distinctly European/UK flavour which granted has been showing up on hip hop tracks a lot over the last few years. The difference here is that its actually done quite well (Flo Rida take note, you should try this rather than sampling another gay disco anthem for your next release).
So what have we have in conclusion is a surprisingly robust collection. The production has luster and musically it is a lot firmer than I anticipated. The flaws as I mentioned are all in the lyrical contributions which can fall flat but there are actually enough decent tunes to keep the whole thing afloat.
(I’m also incredibly grateful he didn’t go down the ‘let’s butcher dubstep’ route that most of America seems to be intent on doing at the moment. So for that Diddy, ta very much.)