Nick Barat is a former FADER editor better known as Nick Catchdubs, a noted DJ and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based record label Fool’s Gold. Bad Boy Greatest Hits Vol. 1 is the lone vinyl record he still brings to every gig, just in case.
I turned 30 this January, which means I’m old enough to have had “It’s All About the Benjamins” as my junior prom theme, and young enough to think that was THE BEST SHIT EVER. I never reviled Diddy as a Cristal-spilling goofball or the enemy of all rap realness; instead, I had No Way Out on constant car stereo rotation alongside Ruff Ryders, Wyclef, Master P and everyone else who was cranking out radio jams in the late ’90s. Good times…though the following ten years were nowhere as kind to Mr. Combs and his Bad Boy empire. Sure, his stature today as a perennial industry icon is untouchable, but the 2000s were pretty dark for dude! He started them in a courtroom! With Jennifer Lopez! In the years that followed, most of the original Bad Boy roster acrimoniously split for other labels, while expensive albums bombed left and right (remember the Forever LP or Ma$e’s two disc opus Double Up? Me neither). Even the occasional hit from Black Rob or Shyne would be followed by years of inactivity—it’s hard to release albums from jail. But even at the label’s lowest points, there were still gems for the Bad Boy faithful (ahem) who never stopped Diddy bopping.
Diddy “Get Off” (2006)
Before Dirty Money could walk upright, there was the evolutionary missing link of Diddy’s solo album Press Play. It’s actually pretty solid throughout and even spawned a legitimate Billboard hit in the Keyshia Cole duet “Last Night.” Yet this awkwardly awesome lead single—little more than an electrocuted James Brown vamp—best personifies the growing pains of the album, if not Diddy’s entire decade. As the man himself puts it: “Y’all tired yet? Y’all ready to go? Hell no! Get off me!”