Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is many things to many people: shrewd record-industry mogul, sharp producer, shiny-suited bon vivant, inventor of the remix. Yet the CDs that bear his name suggest that, above all, Combs is a master of organization, of corralling the right people to the right location at the right time; on The Saga Continues, his underrated 2001 album with the Bad Boy Family, he managed to turn an unwieldy morass of artists, songwriters and producers into a top-notch display of hip-hop sonics.
Unable to pass up a delicious instance of brand-name synchronicity, Diddy used the same approach in assembling his soundtrack to the film Bad Boys II, which bears his imprimatur as executive producer. For one thing, the disc boasts a Diddy-size roster of A-list talent: Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Nelly, Fat Joe, Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake all appear, and he coaxes a posthumous rap out of the Notorious B.I.G.'s archives on "Realest Niggas," a duet with 50 Cent. Thematically, too, the songs travel a familiar orbit, tossing off requests to "shake ya tailfeather" and brandishing disapprovals of B-list footwear; when Philadelphia barker Freeway, who always sounds about ready to self-immolate, shows up in the Just Blaze-helmed "Flipside," his raw delivery illuminates the dapper facility of Diddy's aesthetic.
That's best heard in Timberlake's "Love Don't Love Me," a lean slice of digital funk Diddy produced with partner Mario Winans, and Mary J. Blige's "Didn't Mean," which, like the singer's forthcoming Love & Life, pairs Blige's insistent vocals with a throbbing bass line. "Show Me Your Soul," a Neptunes production featuring Diddy, Williams, Lenny Kravitz and the rapper Loon, doesn't quite achieve the funk-rock gestalt it seems to promise, but it's a kick to hear Diddy observe that "you ain't never been to Guatemala, eating shrimp by the dollar." He indeed has, and he's made another all-star mix tape to prove it.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Dallas, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.