Press Play (Atlantic)

Diddy: Press Play

The Bad Boy roster closed the millennium spitting lyrics over inane '80s classics — a movement that screamed "selling out." Still, No Way Out, Diddy's 1997 vanity-rap debut, went seven times platinum on the strength of the Bowie-sampling "Been Around the World"; the man has always had a vision for pop-rap. A decade later, Press Play is still more pop than rap, but its definition of pop 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," with Brandy), 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 an obvious Tears for Fears track on "Testimonial (Intro)." Press Play is only as good as its guest list, but because the disc includes those mentioned above as well as Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige, Rich Harrison and Twista, it's pretty damn good.
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