LOS ANGELES — If Sean “Diddy” Combs had a choice, the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur would be hunkered down in a recording studio rather than running his many successful businesses.
But for more than a decade, Diddy put creating albums on hold. He credits a late-night dream a couple years ago with waking him up from his musical slumber.
“I stepped away for a little bit, went through a lot of things in life, and then got that call one day from God. She was like, ‘It’s time,’” he recalled in a recent interview. The three-time Grammy winner said the soft voice he heard instantly motivated him to refocus his attention back to making his own music again.
On Friday, Diddy will release his new album called “The Love Album – Off the Grid.” His fifth studio project features nearly 30 guests including Mary J. Blige, Justin Bieber, H.E.R., Babyface, John Legend, Busta Rhymes, Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Coco Jones and Jazmine Sullivan. The album’s lead single “Another One of Me” features The Weeknd, French Montana and 21 Savage.
It’s his first solo studio project since his 2006 chart-topping “Press Play,” which had two top 10 hit singles: “Last Night” with Keyshia Cole and “Come to Me” featuring Nicole Scherzinger.
After his epiphany, Diddy built a recording studio at his home and started to work on music.
“It was God as a woman. … And I was like, ‘It’s time,’” he said, describing his dream.
“I was asking myself the question: ‘If you had to do one thing for the rest of your life, what would you do?’ And that would be to make music.’
“‘What would bring you joy?’ That would be music.’
“‘What has helped you to have a positive effect on the world? That would be music.’ But I wasn’t doing music. From that second on, I jumped headfirst into this project.”
But first, he had to offload his business responsibilities. Diddy had lots to delegate: He’s the head of his widely-popular label Bad Boy Records, Revolt TV and its focus on music, the fashion clothing line Sean John and Empower Global, a curated marketplace featuring Black-owned brands that launched in July.
This month, Diddy reassigned his Bad Boy publishing rights back to artists and songwriters. The move came after some over the years criticized him for mistreating his artists.
“I am passionate about driving progress in all industries,” he told The Associated Press after the interview. “If I speak about change, I am committed to being an active participant in that change. Reassigning the publishing was simply the right thing to do.”
Diddy was one of the popular suitors looking to purchase BET Media Group until Paramount Global decided against selling the majority stake of the network. He’s in a dispute with spirits giant Diageo after he sued the company over allegation of racism over how they handle his liquor brands. The company denies his claims.
“I love being a businessman. That’s my job. Making music is my love,” said Diddy, who received the Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday. He recently donated $1 million each to the Jackson State University football team and the Earn Your Leisure fund, which is expected to be used toward financial literacy investments.
“I had to have self-love and choose what I really love to do. Business is still getting done. But I can’t be in no meeting for three or four hours no more. I need to be making music and living life and spreading this frequency of love. I’m going to handle my business. But this right here, it’s like a kid in a candy store. This is what I love to do. This is my joy. This is my blessing.”
Diddy said the most rewarding part during the recording process was working with all the artists, producers and writers. He imagined how Motown Records founder Berry Gordy must’ve felt when stars like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye recorded at the Hitsville U.S.A. studio back in the days.
“I would take over the studio,” he said. “Everybody was calling to be a part of the ‘Love Album.’ Nobody made me wait more than 30 seconds for an answer if they wanted to do it. It was all authentic. I thank God, nobody told me ‘No.’”
Diddy said he wanted to tell a story on the album that mirrored his fun-filled love life.
“It was important to make an album that people can make love to, baby-making music, for them to dance and go off the grid for 48 hours,” he said. “Turn off your phone and lock in with a significant other. Laugh, dance, cry, make love, eat, chill and do it all over again. That’s important.”