Friday was Homecoming Night in New York. After a seven-year drought, the Knicks’ playoff return to MSG—and disappointing 17-point loss—marked “the game.” Meanwhile, a block west, Diddy-Dirty Money and friends descended on Hammerstein Ballroom for “the dance.” Small touches like a black-and-white themed VIP lounge and silver Mylar letter balloons spelling WELCOME HOME brought to mind Homecoming’s charm without the drag of parent chaperones and square DJs.
The night’s nostalgia continued. Opening act Lloyd invited Ja Rule and Ashanti onstage to perform their 2001 hit, “Always on Time,” followed by Young Money’s Tyga, pleasing the crowd with Michael Jackson’s insta-happy “Rock With You.”
“Yeah, Yeah You Would” kicked off the night with group members Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper heralding Diddy’s entrance. Dressed in all white, the group took the floor as purple searchlights beamed and crossed, and as Diddy did what Diddy does: bounce. The drumline-hooking “Ass On The Floor” featuring Swizz Beats came next, followed by the Mary J. Blige featuring Lil Wayne and Diddy song “Someone to Love Me.” Wayne’s parts were pre-recorded and screened on three jumbo screens that crowned the stage – think the disembodied all powerful head of Oz.
But it was Diddy’s shout-outs to his hometown — “I was born here! I love New York!,” “Broooooklyn!,” “Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Queens!” — that reminded everyone how emotional this album is for him and why this show, the seventh in D-DM’s “Coming Home Tour,” felt especially poignant. Particularly great was a tribute to Biggie with a slideshow and clips from Diddy’s 1997 BET News interview; it was joined by a medley that swept the gamut, from Puff Daddy and the Family to P.Diddy’s “I Need a Girl,” to “Juicy,” and Black Rob’s Whoa! (who joined Diddy on stage.) Noting some of his inspirations for Last Train, “I was walking in Central Park one day, and I heard this song” Diddy invited longtime friend Q-Tip on stage. The crowd lost it as the two performed Tribe’s “Check the Rhime” and “Vivrant Thing.”
The night ended with “Hello, Good Morning,” and fittingly, “Coming Home.” As the Ballroom emptied, Diddy’s declaration that “We like to make feel good music” felt entirely true. Kids and teenagers who attended with parents were the truest indication — both sides recapping their favorite parts of the night as best friends do, the morning after Homecoming.