Press Play (Bad Boy)

Sean "Diddy" Combs has a proven aptitude for entrepreneurship, a talent that has overshadowed his career as a music artist and record-label head for the last several years. Until the recent No. 1 successes of his Bad Boy Records artists Yung Joc, Cassie, and Danity Kane, folks were nearly ready to encourage him to stop with the music ventures and just focus on the clothing and cologne.

Press Play is Diddy's first album in five years, an ambitious collection of R&B ballads, terse hip hop, and electronica that features top producers and collaborators (marquee names include Brandy, Timbaland, Nas, and Kanye West). It emphasizes his talent for bringing out the best in others, but not necessarily in himself. Throughout, Diddy is a seasoning that not all listeners will have a taste for: His ghostwritten rhymes, as on tracks like "The Future," seem forced and monotone. But sometimes his guests shine so brightly that it's almost easy to ignore — or at least tolerate — Diddy, as on "Tell Me" (with Christina Aguilera) and standout track "Last Night" (with Oakland's Keyshia Cole). Diddy can't be written out of the music business so easily, but Press Play suggests that his talents are more behind-the-scenes than in front of a microphone. Tamara Palmer

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