The Love Album: Off The Grid
The trailer for The Love Album is longer than most feature film previews, and in it, private jets are boarded, superyachts cruise through Caribbean seas, and the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B crowd into recording studios designed like fancy spaceships. In other words, Diddy does Diddy things. Then we see him wiping away tears in the back of a luxury car, or collapsed to his knees in front of a sunrise, alone. It would seem that the flashy mogul has been hurt. “My heart has been broken,” he narrates. “I still got that question: Am I going to love again?” Seventeen years have passed since the last time the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy released a solo project (2006’s Press Play), though “solo” might be a stretch: On that album’s best tracks, he happily ceded the spotlight to a murderer’s row of vocalists and superproducers. That hasn’t changed on the 23-track Love Album, whose feature credits look like the lineup of 2023’s most exclusive R&B festival: The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, John Legend, Summer Walker, Mary J. Blige, H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan, Babyface…the list goes on, and on some more. Diddy’s reputation as a hip-hop tycoon can sometimes eclipse his talent for putting together exquisitely outsized R&B concept albums, like 2010’s excellent Last Train to Paris with the Bad Boy group Dirty Money. But in place of the usual winding backstory, The Love Album’s mission is simple: to restore R&B’s sense of passion in an era that often rewards aloofness, and to do so as lavishly as possible. Who else would ad-lib instructions to put your phone down over a funk groove from Herb Alpert with a chorus from The-Dream, or cast Swae Lee as a charming cruise ship balladeer? Blockbuster moments abound, like the icy “Another One of Me” featuring 21 Savage, French Montana, and a hook from The Weeknd that’s being billed as the last collab of the singer’s career. But the fine-print features shine, too: in particular, a pair of scene-stealing showcases for Jozzy, the first signee to Diddy’s new Love Records imprint. Swanky and soulful, it’s an R&B opus of Diddy-esque proportion.