Dear Puff Daddy
aka Sean Combs aka P Diddy
aka whatever you’re calling yourself today,
I know our relationship has been difficult recently, to say the least. At first your Bad Boy
label put out the classic one-two punch of The Notorious B.I.G.
’s Ready to Die
and Craig Mack
’s Project: Funk Da World (one of the most slept on hip hop releases of the 90’s). Of course you needed to get the ladies in on things, so I understood when you started signing R&B acts. At least you were putting out artists like Faith Evans and 112 whose early material blended classic soul with hip hop hooks.
Then B.I.G. got shot, you released his mind blowing last record Life After Death, and Bad Boy went to shit. You signed Murder Mase, put the dude in a shinny suit, and reinvented him as a pop rapper. You fulfilled the dreams of everyone (named Sean Combs at least) and put out your own middling records. You put out one L.O.X record and then held the band hostage in contract disputes. You signed generic gangster rappers like Black Rob
, Gorilla Zoe
to the house that Biggy built. Oh yeah… and Making the Band. Need I say more?
But it all makes sense now. The blatant pandering to mindless pop radio and rap stereotypes were just a ruse so one day you could start releasing mind bending albums from artists like Janelle Monáe
. Once the protégé of Outkast’s Andre 3000 Janelle’s debut Metropolis: The Chase Suite is sure to be the only R&B album this year to include references to chainsaws, electro daggers, cyborgs, alien bounty hunters, along with tales of cousins selling dope to get by. Somewhere between The Wire, Blade Runner, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Janelle serves up space age weirdness and soulful emotion without ever sounding as if she’s straining to make things different for the sake of being different. Pro-tooled Opera vocals? Sure why not! Foot stomping funk? You bet! Billie Holiday
jams? Fuck yes!
My nightmare is that this artist is going to go the way of so many of your previous finds Puff, a worry made all the more troubling by the realization that very few of your recent signings have made it to a second album. Yet, at the same time I can’t imagine this EP not being a massive hit, especially if you can get just a few radio stations to play “Many Moons” which might be the most perfect slice of soul pop to drop since “Hey Ya.” Janelle has it all on Metropollis; she’s got more vocal range than all the members of Danity Kane
combined, a unique lyrical and musical direction, and a former co-sign from Andre 3000
. Shit Puff, I bought this record with my own money and I’m reviewing it on a website where people send me records to write about. Don’t shit the bed here man. If you play your cards right you might just have the new Outkast and the new Lauryn Hill
. Just keep her the hell away from shinny suits and don’t interfere if one of her ideas seems too weird one day. Janelle Monáe
matters, and she hasn’t even released a full length yet. I’ll do my part and let music fans know this exists, you just make sure she puts out a long player as soon as possible.
9 out of 10
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Fiona Apple, Outkast, Billie Holiday, Philip K.. Dick, or Prince. Janelle Monáe janelle monae