As we count down to the ESSENCE Festival, taking place June 30-July 3 in New Orleans, music critic Chuck Arnold will get you pumped with a mix of tunes from this year’s artist lineup.This week it’s a special all Puff Daddy edition in honor of Puff Daddy & the Family’s Festival-closing appearance.
“It’s All About the Benjamins” (remix)
Who doesn’t instantly feel like a baller or shot-caller when the beat drops on this 1997 jam? With the LOX, Lil’ Kim and the Notorious B.I.G. jumping in on the mic, it still never fails to rock the party from the club to the barbecue.
“Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”
Sampling Grandmaster and the Furious Five’s old-school rap classic “The Message,” this joint with Mase also riffs on Matthew Wilder’s ’80s hit “Break My Stride.” The result is an unstoppable groove that keeps you moving.
“Been Around the World”
A monster collab with Mase and the Notorious B.I.G., its slamming beat comes courtesy of “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, the rock legend who passed away in January. Bonus points for the epic video featuring Puff’s superstar ex, Jennifer Lopez.
“Bad Boy for Life”
One of his best P. Diddy moments, this rock-edged anthem vowed that “we ain’t goin’ nowhere, we can’t be stopped now, ’cause it’s Bad Boy for life.” And after the epic Bad Boy Family Reunion shows at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last weekend, it’s clear that Puff was right.
Having dropped the P. and now just going by Diddy, he warbled the chorus on this Prince-influenced hit from 2006’s Press Play. But the real vocal star here is R&B diva Keyshia Cole, who poured plenty of gospel-stoked passion into this.
“Making It Hard”
Puff and Mary J. Blige always had magic together, going back to his work on her What’s the 411? debut and My Life masterpiece. And the two still make a dope duo on this soulful, sax-blasting workout from Press Play, with Puff rightfully letting Mary take over.
“Loving You No More”
He teams up with female duo Dirty Money on this hypnotic chillout from 2010’s Last Train to Paris. While Diddy gets his croon on, Drake drops in to spit a verse. Revealing his sensitive side, this shows that while he may be a “Bad Boy for Life,” the dude has feelings too.
“I’ll Be Missing You”
As a producer, Puff always had a killer knack for building a song around a sample. And after the death of his best friend Biggie, he took an inspired nick from the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Then surrounding himself with 112 and Big’s widow, Faith Evans, he shared his memories—and his grief.