R&B star R. Kelly, rappers Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z and members of hip-hop groups Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Goodie Mob will be among the guest stars on Forever, the second album from multiplatinum rapper and rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs.
Combs, a.k.a. Puff Daddy, has recruited a host of guest stars to contribute to his latest effort, according to a statement from the rapper's label, Bad Boy Entertainment.
Combs, who still faces a felony assault charge stemming from his alleged attack on a record executive and producer for rapper Nas in April, will release the album Aug. 24. The first single, "PE 2000," is scheduled for release July 6.
"This more than meets the very high expectations we all had for Puffy's second album. It's hot, unique, cutting edge," Clive Davis, president of Bad Boy's parent company, Arista Records, said in a statement.
In addition to the album version, "PE 2000" will be released in two alternate versions: a Spanish-language edition and a rock remix that includes vocals from Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, according to the Bad Boy statement. All three versions of the song will have their own separate videos.
Forever will follow Puff Daddy's chart-topping first album, No Way Out (1997), which included the massive hits "I'll Be Missing You" (RealAudio excerpt) and "All About the Benjamins." For multiple weeks, the album held the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart and was reported to have shipped more than 7 million copies.
Combs, born in Harlem and raised in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., found success as a record executive and producer before he was widely known as a rapper. He has produced tracks for high-profile artists, including Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and TLC, in addition to such Bad Boy rappers as Ma$e (born Mason Betha) and the late Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace).
Combs contributed guest vocals to a number of Bad Boy productions, but he didn't have his first solo hit until "I'll Be Missing You," which paid tribute to his friend the Notorious B.I.G., who was shot and killed in Las Vegas in 1997.
Following in the tradition of No Way Out, which built its hits on samples from such well-known songs as the Police's smash ballad "Every Breath You Take," several tracks on Forever will include chart-topping samplings.
The track "Angels With Dirty Faces," which is named after a 1930s gangster movie and guest-stars Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, includes a riff sampled from the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire's 1977 song "Fantasy," according to Bad Boy.
The ballad "My Best Friend" is built around a sample from '80s pop star Christopher Cross' 1980 hit "Sailing," according to the label, which describes the new song as "in the tradition of '[I'll Be] Missing You.' "
Meanwhile, at least one classic hitmaker, Ron Isley of the Isley Brothers, will appear on Forever, adding vocals to the track "Lay Your Troubles Down."
Danny Valdivia, a supervisor at a Tower Records in Chicago, said he expected the new album to be one of the most popular releases of the year. "We probably will order a lot of it [and] people will definitely look for it," he said.
Valdivia said he expected pop fans rather than hardcore hip-hop fans to pick up the album, because "there's a whole underground [rap] scene who pretty much hates Puffy," in part because of his heavy reliance on familiar samples.
In other matters, Combs recently made a public apology to record executive Steve Stoute, whom he allegedly attacked in April. Combs also reached a settlement with Stoute precluding any civil suit stemming from the incident. Combs is next due in Manhattan Criminal Court on Aug. 5 to answer criminal charges from the alleged attack, but his lawyer, Jay Goldberg, has said he is negotiating a possible plea bargain with prosecutors.
Also on Puffy's itinerary is a religious album, Thank You The Gospel Album, due in the fall. The record is scheduled to feature an array of guests, including R&B singer Faith Evans, who also appears on Forever.
"The album is his way of giving back and saying thank you to God," Juanita Stephens, Bad Boy's head of publicity, said recently.