Diddy returns!

It has been five years since Diddy has released an album, and in the meantime the Bad Boy music mogul has dabbled in various projects including taking artists Yung Joc and Cassie under his wing and creating the newly popular girl group, Danity Kane.

All-in-all, however, Bad Boy has been in somewhat of a creative rut and Diddy’s new album, Press Play, breathes some much needed life back into the label.

The album, which is heavy in featuring artists, offers up an eclectic serving of party hits, traditional rap, and R&B inspired songs. The album opens with “The Testimonial,” an intro track that finds Diddy rhyming over a soulful piano melody.

The track is perhaps one of the best showings of his musical prowess, which to this day many believe is not his own. His impressive, albeit smug lyrics, can be heard over many of the tracks including the intro, evidenced by the lyrics: “I told mom I would be something, I gave myself to the world and now it’s like you owe me something/Listen up I got a story to tell, it’s like I fell out of heaven just to walk through hell/But it fueled my fire, united my desire, and gave me the bricks and the sand to build an empire.”

The succeeding three tracks have a strong Diddy presence, but every song following is absolutely riddled with guest appearances. Singles “Come To Me,” featuring Nicole Scherzinger and “Tell Me,” featuring Christina Aguilera, begin the series of guest artist tracks.

As mentioned, the album features a variety of music styles, “Come To Me” being the main danceable song. “Diddy Rock,” which features Timbaland, Twista, and Shawnna makes the album more accessible to fans of the increasingly popular southern sound.

Halfway through, the album hits “Claim My Place,” a fabulous interlude featuring Avant, marking act two of the LP which carries a noticeably soulful tone. The second half of the album features an assortment of R&B stars such as Brandy, Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige, and the up-and-coming Keri Hilson. Hilson, who has been ghostwriting for various artists since 2000 and is slated to release her solo-album, Keri’d Away In a Perfect World, next year, did a fantastic job with the song “After Love.”

Although the first half of the album is formidable, the second half clearly makes for a considerably stronger performance, which Diddy owes heavily to the featured artists who brought the album to new heights. The final track, “Partners For Life,” featuring Jamie Foxx, was clearly inspired by Diddy’s relationship with girlfriend Kim Porter, and reveals a more sensitive side of the Bad Boy CEO that suggests that perhaps he isn’t as much of a “bad boy” as he is made out to be.

Press Play is undoubtedly a strong showing and worthy of the five-year hiatus Diddy took between albums. Although at times it almost seems as though the album is not his own but instead a compilation of varying artists, it easily acts as a solid addition to any hip-hop fan’s collection.

Next time around Diddy has to be wary of how many feaured artists he has and invest a little more confidence into his own abilities.