Money Making Mitch (released Nov. 4, 2015)
Last week I celebrated my birthday by watching underqualified presidential candidates yell at each other in a mind-numbing debate.
Sean Combs celebrated his birthday by dropping his latest album for free online while watching his hordes of followers lose their minds on Twitter.
Clearly I’m not living right. But not many of us can live like Puff anyway.
MMM (Money Making Mitch), Diddy’s sixth solo LP, is allegedly a “sonic motion picture,” a fairy tale that is the result of the “hustler’s spirit and drive” – according to the intro track “Facts.” Um, yeah, ignore that cheesy Netflix movie description. This is essentially the typical Puff album, which means A-list guest stars, top shelf production, and the worst lyrics Puffy’s money can buy.
We all know Puffy’s no Rakim but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had great albums – both No Way Out and Press Play had their fair share of bangers. The secret to a great Diddy album is strong production and a strong stable of assist leaders. Those factors make the first half of MMM a pretty fun listen.
Clearly there was no expense spared on production, as nearly every song is an instrumentalist’s dream. “Harlem” brings the knock while Sevyn’s smooth vocals cascade over “Help Me.” Puff doesn’t have much to say other than I’M RICHER THAN YOU but when backed by stellar production, listening to his boasts aren’t a chore.
Things really pick up when Puff gets out of the way and lets the beasts out of their cages. “Everyday (Amor)” is the album’s shining moment, with Jadakiss, Styles P and Pusha T tearing up the track with their lyrical thesis. Kiss sets the stage, reminding us that when it comes to that work, he can “move it without touching it/telekinesis.” P embraces his status as elder statesman (“old soul, I was here when Medusa was pretty”) while King Push reflects on life as a d-boy:
I’m tryna find peace for the love of my brother
Who dodged the white powder, I couldn’t, I’m covered
The price of blood diamonds is killing our cousins
While high blood sugar just killing my mother
It’s one of the best tracks of the year. “Auction” is a lesser version of “Everyday” but still enjoyable, with Lil Kim, King Los and Styles backed by blaxploitation horns. Los definitely shines here.
But when the quality of guest stars drops, so does the album.
Future is still undefeated in screwing up perfectly good beats, totally desecrating the title track. “All or Nothing” is hindered by Puff and French Montana stumbling all over themselves on the hook. Wiz Khalifa shows up too, dropping the same stale verse he’s been reciting since 2009. “You Could Be My Love” almost succeeds on the strength of the production alone, sounding like it was pulled from 112’s late-90s playbook. Sadly, Ty Dolla Sign is no 112, and his duet with Autotune Diddy is a far cry from “Anywhere.” Even the mesmerizing production of “Workin'” goes to waste, although Big Sean sounds a bit more focused than usual.
Hey, look, I praised Big Sean. It’s a birthday miracle.
I can hear the Puff stans yellin’ in my mentions now: “This is a FREE album! Stop being so critical!” But that’s like getting a free sandwich with strands of pubic hair on your lunch meat. Just cuz it’s free doesn’t mean you accept it as flawless.
Still, MMM is far from a disaster, there’s some really good material here. But it could have – and should have – been much more that what we got.
Best tracks: “Everyday (Amor),” “Auction,” “Help Me”
3 stars out of 5