BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Samples of pop hits by Christopher Cross and
Earth, Wind and Fire wafted through the posh Reign nightclub Tuesday night as
members of the music industry gathered for a preview of rap superstar Puff Daddy's
Those who stayed long enough heard six songs from Forever, the follow-up to the
chart-topping No Way Out (1997), which is due Aug. 24. They also heard Puff
Daddy (born Sean Combs) say, as part of a video retrospective on his hitmaking career,
"I want this to be an album to go down in history."
The first song the crowd heard was "PE 2000" (RealAudio excerpt), the
album's first single. A remake of seminal rap group Public Enemy's "Public Enemy No.
1," it features guest female rapper Hurricane G. Puffy lends a modern edge to the song
with futuristic sound effects.
Puff Daddy plans on releasing several videos for the song, one for each of its four
versions: the original, a rock remix featuring Public Enemy's Chuck D (born Carlton
Ridenhour) on vocals, a Spanish version and a bilingual version.
The other five tracks previewed Tuesday continued Puff Daddy's trademark style of
combining rap and pop with recognizable samples.
"PE 2000," which was previewed in both English and Spanish versions, was followed
by "Do You Want It," introduced as a possible second single. It featured Puff
Daddy and Jay-Z (born Shawn Carter) trading rhymes over old-school beats.
It was hard to make out what they were rapping about. The music was loud and was
muddled by the club's sound system.
During the video, Clive Davis, president of Arista Records, the parent company of Puff
Daddy's Bad Boy Entertainment, assured the audience that the album is "going to set
everyone on their ear."
Not everyone stayed to find out, though. As many as 200 people, many of them
employees of Bad Boy, Arista and BMG, Arista's parent company, were packed into the
bar, but it was hot inside and the first song wasn't played until two hours after the party
started. By that time, the crowd had thinned considerably.
Although Forever is expected to be a 15-song collection, only six songs were
played because the others are awaiting sample clearances, according to representatives
for the rapper.
Samples were easy to pick out in the songs that were played. "Angels With Dirty Faces,"
a song inspired by the 1938 James Cagney gangster film of the same name, featured a
rap by Ma$e (born Mason Betha) and a catchy sample from Earth, Wind and Fire's
"My Best Friend," the last song previewed, was built around a sample of pop singer
Christopher Cross' "Sailing." The rapper's representatives said the song is about Puff
Daddy's relationship with God.
The crowd also was treated to "Satisfy You," a love song featuring the crooning of R&B
singer R. Kelly on the chorus, and "Get Off (I'll Do This for You)," the possible third single,
credited to Puff Daddy and dancehall singer Yellowman (born Mario Winans). "Get Off"
has a freestyle, laid-back party vibe.
Forever will follow up the 29-year-old rapper's multiplatinum first album, which
included the massive hits "I'll Be Missing You" (RealAudio excerpt) and "All About the Benjamins." The album,
which was noted for its extensive use of familiar samples, was #1 on the Billboard
200 albums chart for several weeks.
Puff Daddy plans to release another album this fall, a gospel record called Thank
You The Gospel Album. It will feature such guests as R&B singer Faith Evans,
who also appears on Forever.
The rapper has recently been in the public eye for his arrest in an alleged attack on
record executive Steve Stoute, which reportedly stemmed from a dispute over the video
for rapper Nas' "Hate Me Now." Puff Daddy publicly apologized to Stoute and reached a
settlement preventing any civil suit, but still faces criminal charges. He is due in
Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Aug. 5.