P. DIDDY INTERVIEWS:
INTERVIEW TAKEN ON: 07/19/2001
INTERVIEW BY: Yahoo! Music
Sean Combs--aka Puffy, Puff Daddy, or P. Diddy, depending on your wont--didn't intend to make a new album when he decamped for Miami following his March 16 acquittal of weapons and bribery charges in New York City. He was looking for rest and relaxation, not work. But part of the fun was working, and the result is P. Diddy & The Bad Boy Family...The Saga Continues, an 18-track set constructed by Combs and his extended family of rappers, singers, and producers as a feel-good catharsis as they emerged from the dark clouds that had hovered over Combs's Bad Boy enterprises during his trial.
And P. Diddy and his extended family are feeling particularly good after The Saga Continues debuted at number two on the Billboard album charts in its first week of release.
"It was something I didn't plan on doing," Combs, 31, says of the album. "When the trial was over, it was almost like being able to see again, being able to breathe again--it was that much of a release. I went away to Miami, and at night I would also go into the studio and make records, just for no reason, just to get back to the fun of making records. Before I knew it, like three weeks later, I had 10 songs done.
"The record was full of hits, just like, uptempo songs. It was real rough and raw, just full of songs that gave you a good feeling. That's the vibe I think that hip-hop needs right now, as far as having songs that were positive, that were friendly, that were not too angry but at the same time gave you a good feeling."
Combs's perspective, of course, is that of a multifaceted music business veteran with more than a dozen years of making hits, for himself and others. Well-educated in the comfortable confines of Mount Vernon, New York, and at Howard University in Washington, D.C., the Harlem-born Combs's résumé includes finds such as Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, 112, and of course, the late Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie's widow, Faith Evans, as well as his own collaborations with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the Foo Fighters. Prior to The Saga Continues, this year's triumph was the teen vocal group Dream and its hits "This Is Me" and "He Loves U Not." Still, Combs wanted The Saga Continues to be a more uplifting experience than his last release, 1999's Forever. "The last album was kinda angry," he says. "It was extra-tough. I was caught up as far as personal things, and whatever I talked about was definitely true reality. But when people want to get some entertainment from me, they want to have a good time. [Forever] is a personal album to me, but music shouldn't be personal. You shouldn't be selfish about it--not all the time. You can definitely have some personal aspects on an album that express what you see and what you're doing, but sometimes it's better to create something that everybody can relate to.
"This album doesn't have no underlying theme. It's just a bunch of hot records. And just having a good time and uptempo and dancing in a club--everybody can relate to that."
Combs, in fact, originally intended to put out a Bad Boy compilation album. "My creativity was definitely stopped" during the trial, he explains. But he says the anthology idea never sat well with him. "I never really wanted to put out a compilation album, but I was having to do that in order to keep paying the bills as far as having to put out product," says Combs, who intended the new tracks "Let's Get It" and "Can't Believe" for that project. "I don't like the idea of just throwing out compilation albums, really. As soon as I got a chance to not put it out, I definitely canceled it."
Combs is joined on The Saga Continues by a swirl of collaborators, ranging from Bad Boy veterans such as Evans, Carl Thomas, and Black Rob to newcomers like G. Dep, Mark Curry, the Hoodfellaz, Kain, and Loon, the latter of whom Combs calls "my partner in fun right now."
"They're all on point," Combs says of his collaborators. "Nobody made this album unless they were able to step up to standards. I would have to say that this right here is more like the 21st-century version of the Fam; this is the new direction, this is where we're going into. These cats, it's like they're young and raw, but at the same time they're like products of the last Family, of everybody else that came before them. When they were growing up, that's who they were fans of. They came to see my concerts. They came to see Biggie. They're products of us."
Combs also reaches outside the Family on The Saga Continues to work with "honorary" relatives like Eightball, MJB, and Kokane. He also includes the hot production team the Neptunes, who join Combs on the gleefully self-celebratory track "Diddy."
"They just called me and said, 'Yo, we have this track for you,'" Combs recalls. "They sent it to me and they had the chorus on there and everything. A lot of people don't know that we've been friends for years. I was one of the first people to give them a job; they did a Total album for me in '95."
Combs knows that some might wonder why he takes part in such group enterprises rather than making albums strictly under his own name. The answer, he says, is simple: Besides the prudent business course it provides for him to expose fresh performers, he prefers to view himself as a team player, the hip-hop equivalent of the point guard on a basketball team. "I'm definitely running the point," he explains, "but at the same time I'm playing on the team." And that way, Combs adds, he never gets too lonely.
"I just think I'm best performing with people," says Combs, who promises "the greatest R&B;/hip-hop show ever seen" if The Saga Continues is successful. "I don't think I'm best doing a whole album of me rapping by myself. I think I'm best as the producer, the orchestrator, the ringmaster, and one of the key players on the team, surrounding myself with young talent that I'm also trying to launch. I think that's the way it really clicks for me."
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