Diddy: Man Of All Trades

Jorteh Senah from BallerStatus interviewed Diddy. Here’s the full interview:

Diddy, P. Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy, Sean John. Sean Combs has had so many names, but the titles he adorns are even more excessive: CEO, entrepreneur, activist, marathon-runner, actor, producer, rapper and now, get this—singer. Excess should be his middle name or better yet another alias because whatever Diddy does he does B.I.G. like his late, great comrade.

Like everything else in his life, his new album, Press Play, is a mammoth production boasting a bevy of guest appearances from the likes of Nas, Christina Aguilera and Jamie Foxx, as well a top-level tastemakers like Just Blaze, Timbaland and of course The Neptunes. Critics constantly question his artistic merit, but Diddy will be the first to admit that he’s much more of an entertainer than he is a “true” artist, and he’s by no means ashamed of that. Why should he be? His knack for entertainment has garnered him three platinum albums and one of the biggest hip-hop tours ever. His mantra is the most genuine in the hip-hop game: the man just “can’t stop.” BallerStatus kicked it with the quintessential Harlem hustler as he spoke about his promotional tour, his new album and what’s left for him to accomplish.

Ballerstatus: You’ve been on a promotional tour for the last few months, where you’ve been to different states around the U.S. and have spoke in high schools and received keys to different cities. Is there any particular moment during this tour that sticks out in your mind?

Diddy: Yeah, honestly, I would have to say it’s the things you see when you go into neighborhoods. Like, they’re not used to seeing your face there and you’re and inspiration to them. There were three generational families showing up, because the grandmother is happy that you’re doing this for her grandson, so she’s there, and then you got the mother, and then the shorty is there because he likes the music. They’re real happy to see you and it makes me feel like I’ve made something of myself to be able to touch these people who’ve supported me so much. Then there are the times I’ve got of the bus and gone into high schools, and they’ll shut down the whole high school and have everyone from the high school in the national gym or auditorium. It turned into a mini pep rally on positivity.

Ballerstatus: What topics did you discuss with the high schoolers?

Diddy: Really about life skills and making no excuses, letting them press play into my life. Letting them know I really come from where they come from, I understand what they’re going through and I understand what society has planned for them. They have to take responsibility for their future and don’t fall for what society has planned for them. It’s coming across well because they know it’s real talk.

Ballerstatus: That’s great because those are skills that you don’t necessarily learn at school, and academic knowledge is just one aspect of preparing for your future.

Diddy: Yeah, especially for Blacks and Latino kids. It’s going to be three to four times harder for them to be successful.

Ballerstatus: Being that you’re such a successful business man who doesn’t really need the little money that comes from records sales and the fact that releasing an album today is such a risky financial affair. What inspired you to record another album?

Diddy: After I did the “Bad Boys II” soundtrack two and a half year ago, which I won a Grammy for, I just wanted to take a rest from it as a producer and an artist. I wanted to do other things for a second, like run a marathon, star on Broadway, work on my clothing line and television shows. I’ve been busy, you know hip-hop is a way of life for me, so it’s not just the music, it’s a way of life for me. I just understood where everything was at and I understood that the overall entertainer aspect of it was missing in the game and also the celebration. So, I thought that I could bring some records that had a lot of musicality and also have some evolution sound wise. So, I went into the studio and started experimenting, I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself and because of that, it’s worked out for the best.

Ballerstatus: The fact that you’re releasing Press Play because of your love for hip-hop and to fill a void in the game, isn’t the response many people may expect from you. In the sense that a lot of the times you’re seen as business man more than an artist, but the fact is you’re love for making music is just as great as any of the “real” artist out there.

Diddy: I think that doing so many things is a double edge sword because people don’t really know if you’re serious about your music. That’s why for the next two years, I’m going to be out here promoting this and be on the road showcasing it. It’s a different approach because it’s not so much about the first week huge sales, it’s more about the long haul and really promoting the record.

Ballerstatus: So it sounds like a tour is the planning?

Diddy: Yes, a tour will follow once the record is released, probably at the top of the year. I’m going to be out there with a live band and with two turntables and a microphone.

Ballerstatus: At this point, are there any other artists that have agreed to go out on tour with you?

Diddy: We’re working on that now. A lot of artists remember the No Way Out Tour and also know me as an entertainer and know how fun it is to be out on the road with me. So, there are a lot of artist that are willing to get down with it, but we haven’t closed any deals with it yet. I can tell you that it’s going to be a worldwide tour.

Ballerstatus: The album deals with a lot of issues that stem from relationships. What inspired this?

Diddy: I think in hip-hop we have to talk about the truth as it is to us. The album touches on relationships, it touches on my love for music, and it touches on being in love, but it doesn’t do it in a corny sappy way. It’s done in a way that’s honest and some songs may make people feel uncomfortable because it’s honest and it’s things that they’re going through. I’ve done been there and done that with talking about the drugs and guns and things that I’ve seen with the beefs and all of that. I think that the music that’s more uplifting and more celebratory. It also talks about relationships and it’s right up in the lane that I’m in.

Ballerstatus: In a sense you’re saying that the album shows your growth as a man, because you’re at a stage in your life where relationships tend to be more significant?

Diddy: Yeah, but I think even the 14 year old is going through something in a relationship, whether your 14 or 32, it’s something that people can relate to. It was also important for me on the hip-hop joints like “The Future,” “I Am” and “Hold Up” to collaborate with Havoc and Pharoahe Monch and pick it up to that next level. Even on the joint that Kanye did with me, Nas and Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley, it was important for me to show kats that I could really hold my own and step it up.

Ballerstatus: I know you’re a big fan of movies, if you could compare your album to a classic love story which one would it be?

Diddy: Shoot, it would probably be “Casablanca” or… no, it would probably be more like “Mahogany.”

Ballerstatus: Is there one record that you’re particularly proud of, or that’s your favorite?

Diddy: I would have to say “Last Night.” It’s a joint that I’m singing on with Keyshia Cole. It’s just so different and something you won’t expect from me.

Ballerstatus: How did that come about, did you have to hire vocal coach?

Diddy: I ain’t gone lie.l I took some vocal lessons with this young lady, this legendary young lady by the name of Betty Wright. She did this song called “Clean Up Woman” back in the day. She’s a great vocal coach.

Ballerstatus: Could you see yourself doing some more singing in the future?

Diddy: [Laughs] Nah, I think I did enough singing on this album.

Ballerstaus.com: I’ve heard a couple songs off Press Play and one joint “The Future” is sprinkled with some social commentary, which is a little different for you. Has your recent hands on involvement with politics and humanitarian causes inspired your music?

Diddy: Yeah, I definitely think just life experiences have inspired my music, and also you evolve to a point where you have the power to fight. You want to make sure that you really utilize that in a positive way, so I definitely think that being more socially conscious in general has brought me to that point.

Ballerstatus: Earlier when you discussed going into black communities and meeting generations of families on your promotional tour. The image of you shaking hands and kissing babies popped into my mind and you know where I’m going with this, is politics in your future?

Diddy: [Laughs] Nah, I can’t see myself being a politician. I like being a revolutionary even more than a politician. I rather go in the more revolutionary direction, and by that I mean just fighting for the cause.

Ballerstatus: You’ve done so many different things from starring on Broadway to running marathons. Is there anything that you want to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?

Diddy: Well, I’ve never had a leading role in a movie, so maybe something like that, which I’m about to do with the filming of “A Raisin In The Sun.”

Ballerstatus: Is there any other roles that you really want to play? I interviewed Snoop a couple weeks ago and he mentioned that he’s dieing to play the role of Miles Davis.

Diddy: I ain’t gone lie, I’ll have to agree with Snoop, either Miles Davis or Marvin Gaye. They’re highly influential artists.

Ballerstatus: If you had to name your top three influences in music, who would they be?

Diddy: Barry Gordy, Dr. Dre and Teddy Riley.

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