P. DIDDY, BLACK ROB, & MARK CURRY – “Bad Boy For Life”

Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” has always confounded me. Jimmy Page plays a riff straight from the Neil Young Perfectly Inept Solo school. Well, the riff itself isn’t gloriously inept, but when said riff bumps against John Bonham’s nonchalant drumming, it careens like a drunk roadie looking for octopi in the hallway of a Motel 6. Robert Plant’s vocals are, for the most part, left suspended in mid-air, bracketed by these drunken fumblings. And, then, they find that confounded bridge, everything comes together and tightens, and the song somehow emerges victorious. It’s a strange little ditty.

So’s this offering from the Sean John Collection. Unfortunately, while P.’ s ditty is backed by a stumbling guitar lead similar to the one found on “Black Dog”, there’s no bridge coming to the rescue. (Unless you could that stoppage in the video, where Ben Stiller shows up, acts like someone trying desperately to emulate Ben Stiller because Ben Stiller RAWKS!, and leaves me smacking my head in shock and dismay.) Black Rob & Mark Curry are servicable as far as rappers go – damned if I can recall a thing they said, but they’re all right. To be honest, I barely recall their contributions. Their words and diction pale beneath the dark shadow cast by P. Diddy’s desperate tussles with the concepts of “flow” and “rhythm”. When he tries straight-up rapping, it’s terrible. When he turns on the Devo switch, and tries to get down with the inept honkey funk of the previously mentioned guitar riff, it’s terrible. When he starts bragging about Bad Boy & 2001 & Cristal & whatever else he won’t shut up about in the spoken-word coda that ends most chest-beating pseudo-phat tracks, it’s terrible. Of course, I’m not the most impartial person when it comes to judging P. Diddy – his clothing line sucks, his over-the-top multi-million-dollar video productions suck, his non-obvious sampling choices suck, his dancing sucks. (Has he had a legitimate hit since he stopped Vanilla Icing his songs? I really can’t recall…)

I think of P. Diddy, and I think of Rob Liefeld. A comic artist from the mid-to-late 80s. Became wildly popular for his brash, in-your-face artistry, though critics rightfully called him on his egregious anatomical errors and severe lack of storytelling skills – the quintessential case of style over substance. Eventually, Liefeld co-founded his own comic publishing company, midwifed the careers of some equally egregious stylists, called himself a “writer” and pissed all over the Oxford Dictionary, tried branching out into other mediums – including comic book deals with a former cast member of Battlestar Galactica and Poison’s Rikki Rocket! – and eventually fell flat on his ass (at least in the public sector). While Liefeld still picks up a pencil from time to time for other companies (and I heard he’s improved), he had the sense to farm out his home-grown creations to folks that were (admittedly) more talented than him. Seeing Snoop Dogg & Xzibit make their cameos in the video for “Bad Boy For Life” – it’s not a rap video without the gratuitous cameos, remember – I can only dream of the day when P. Diddy hands off the mike to one of these cats and lets them do the dirty work. Until that day, cover your ears, because this bad boy is getting rank.