Prince, David Bowie ... And Porn? Diddy Reveals Inspiration Behind Press Play

Teddy Pendergrass, Johnny Depp, 'Fight Club' and others also inform LP.

NEW YORK — On Monday night, Diddy was celebrating the impending arrival of his baby.

Not the twins (see "Diddy Expecting Twins With Longtime Girlfriend") — his long-in-the-making Press Play LP, which hit stores on Tuesday.

Surrounded by friends like Mary J. Blige, Kanye West (both Press Play collaborators), Ja Rule and Q-Tip, Diddy popped open a few bottles and basked in his re-emergence on the music scene. Yes, re-emergence: While the man was perched at the forefront of music for many years, more recently his other projects — acting, fashion, cologne and diving deeper into fatherhood — have taken precedence, and entrepreneurial players like Kanye, Pharrell, Eminem, Jay-Z and 50 Cent stepped into the breach.

But a couple of years ago, he got that spark again and set to work on the album that he's said he "hopes" will be his last. And if Press Play proves to be his swan song, he'll be able to say it's his best effort since his first solo LP, No Way Out (see "Diddy Promises Nas, Kanye, Cee-Lo, 'Gutter' Christina On Possible Last LP" and "Diddy On Singing Debut: 'I Represent All Of The Shower Singers Out There' "). The fans will make their opinions known next week, when the album debuts on the charts.

The buzz on the LP has been strong, largely because Diddy wasn't afraid to do what its title commands. He's held several listening parties over the past few weeks and even leaked five songs before the album hit stores.

But what's got people buzzing isn't hype — it's the beats and the mood of the album. The music on "Special Feeling" will remind you of something out of Morris Day and the Time's catalog, while "Last Night" is straight Prince and the Revolution. Other influences are evident throughout the LP, from old-school hip-hop to David Bowie.

"It's definitely inspired by Prince, Morris Day and the Time — '80s rock and '80s hip-hop," he agreed. "I was looking at VH1 when they was going through the different eras [in rap], and I was looking at how rich hip-hop was in the '80s. I said, 'How can I take from everything I've heard — growing up in the '80s and those sounds, listening to James Brown coming up — and bring it from this point? How can I make them evolve?' Before I started the album, I wanted to get into heavy research about the evolution of music and how it's affecting me."

While Diddy was working on the album with producers Kanye, Pharrell, Just Blaze, Mobb Deep's Havoc, Rich Harrison and others, he said he wanted it to have the feel of a live band so it will translate well to the stage when he eventually tours.

"I was making it for a live experience," he said a few weeks ago while putting finishing touches on the album at his Daddy's House recording studio. "I worked with Tower of Power, the ['70s-era] horn cats, I worked with John [Blackwell], Prince's drummer. You're gonna hear the evolution of the sound.

"Conceptually, that was something in the back of my head: 'How do I move people? How do I use voices? How do I stay in my lane?' I'm good when I play a role as an orchestrator and give you different things. When you hear the unique backgrounds and the horns and the percussion, it gives you a unique thing. I pride myself on being a great entertainer."

Indeed, the great entertainer sought great inspiration during the creation of Press Play, and he let MTV News have a look at some of his muses — in the form of a batch of DVDs lined up in a row. Along with "Scarface," "Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture," Michael Jackson's "Video Greatest Hits: HIStory," Usher's "Truth Tour: Behind the Truth: Live From Atlanta" and "Rebel Music: The Bob Marley Story" were some other treats that highlight Diddy's eclectic tastes. He shared some quick thoughts on them:

"Africa Live: The Roll Back Malaria Concert" "This is a concert they did back in the day. Just the sounds and instrumentations — a lot of people don't realize the movement of the music that's going on in Africa, and that went on in Africa back when this DVD was made. If y'all think James Brown is funky, this right here is real funky."

Prince's "Rave Un2 the Year 2000" "I'm a huge Prince fan, you can probably hear how he's inspired me. This is some stuff he did at his crib on New Year's Eve [2000]."

"The Libertine" "That joint with Johnny Depp — it's real mean."

Jay-Z's "Fade to Black" "You gotta keep your eye on people, even from your time, that inspire you."

The Classic Rock String Quartet's "A Classic Rock Tribute to David Bowie" "Image-wise, [there's some] hip-hop David Bowie. If David Bowie was black and from Harlem, he'd be me. He's one of them muses, along with James Brown and Prince."

"Fight Club" "A lot of my vibe, image-wise, is some 'Fight Club,' hip-hop and Johnny Cash."

Teddy Pendergrass' "Live in '79" "C'mon, baby!"

"Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation" "It's a whole lotta things that go into [the album]. That's the seduction side." [He laughs.]