This disc seems more like a way for Bad Boy honcho Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs to squeeze dollars out of his catalog and promote his new releases than an attempt to take an honest look back at Bad Boy's R&B accomplishments.
It's interesting that this ill-conceived collection is aptly titled Bad Boy's R&B Hits, not Bad Boy's Greatest R&B Hits. This disc seems more like a way for Bad Boy honcho Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to squeeze dollars out of his catalog and promote his new releases than an attempt to take an honest look back at Bad Boy's R&B accomplishments. To my ears, too much of what's here sounds like filler, and some of the label's major R&B hits are noticeably missing.
What, exactly, is P. Diddy's "I Need a Girl", a lyrical disaster, doing on this disc? It's probably got something to do with Usher's guest spot, but what, really, does Usher have to do with Bad Boy anyway? We can say the same about Jodeci, who appear here on a Diddy remix, and New Edition, a recent Bad Boy acquisition. Of course, New Edition was once quite significant, but a song from its latest album is out of context here. And who is Cheri Dennis, anyway? Somehow, in Diddy's mind, this new artist, who has never charted, warrants a track on this "hits" compilation.
The album commits sins of omission, too. It's especially hard to swallow the New Edition track because it uses the same sample as "I Don't Wanna Know" by Mario Winans, a genuine, chart-topping R&B Bad Boy smash that's not included here. Where is "I Wish" by Carl Thomas? And what happened to Bad Boy's leading female vocal group, Total? They're here only with Ma$e, on "What You Want", which is certainly a good enough song, but "Trippin'", "Can't You See", and "What About Us" all fail to appear. "Only You" by 112, which should have been on this disc, instead ends up on another flawed collection, Bad Boy's 10th Anniversary: The Hits. Also missing in action are the biggest Bad Boy song ever -- "I'll Be Missing You" by P. Diddy featuring Faith Evans and 112 -- and Faith's "Love Like This".
What salvages this compilation is, unsurprisingly, what made Bad Boy important in the first place: the Notorious B.I.G. Diddy's remix of "Real Love", by Mary J. Blige and featuring Biggie, really was one of the shining moments in the early '90s marriage of R&B and hip-hop, a marriage that Diddy, among others, brought to fruition. By putting Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman" into the mix, providing a much tougher beat, and dropping Biggie's verse into the middle of the song, Diddy made a fantastic recording even that much better. You still hear this remix, regularly, on the radio here in New York, and with good reason. "Fucking You Tonight", by Biggie featuring R. Kelly, was also a masterpiece, though it was, obviously, never a chart hit. Biggie and R. Kelly riffing off each other is great, but what makes the track so intriguing is its rhythmic complexity, particularly in the relationship between the bass, the drums, and the keys. This song is filthy, but in the best sense of the word.
My advice? Avoid this compilation. If you don't have them already, pick up Biggie's Ready to Die and Life After Death. Or, better yet, just go online and put together your own Bad Boy best-of. Thankfully, we no longer live in a world where you have to buy an entire album just to get a few good songs.