It’s definitely going to be the album of the summer,” says Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, about the soundtrack to Bad Boys II, which he produced. It’s a who’s who of hip-hop, R&B and rock, including Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake and Lenny Kravitz– “I called all my friends up,” says Puffy. Plus, you also get the debut track from Da Band, Puffy’s protégés from this season’s hilarious Making the Band 2 on MTV. Gleaming with diamonds, chowing on a plate of fish and lentils, and constantly checking his two-way pager, Puffy reflects from Daddy’s House, his studio complex in midtown Manhattan.
What’s your first musical memory?
Playskool used to make these little plastic, battery-operated record players that played 45s. I got it for Christmas when I was five years old. I didn’t have anything to put on it, so I went to the record store and bought James Brown’s “I’ve Got Ants in My Pants (And I Want to Dance).” That chorus was kinda childish, and I was five, but that was a hot record. It got me dancing.
Where were you when you realized what you wanted to do with your life?
I was at the Raising Hell Tour at Madison Square Garden [in 1986], and Run-DMC held up their Adidas and told everybody in the crowd to hold up their Adidas. I swear, 20,000 people held up their sneakers. I remember I was like, “I wanna do that one day.”
What’s the most insane time you’ve had in a recording studio?
I don’t think I can really discuss the things that have happened in some of the sessions. I wouldn’t want to put anybody in that position. But a couple of years ago, we were in the studio creating, a bunch of people came by, and it turned into a big party. I was having so much fun, I didn’t realize three days went by. Pure energy. It got real wild. Lots of hit records, lots of sexiness.
On Making the Band 2, your disciples bitch about having to go buy you cheesecake. What grunt work did you do on the way up?
A lot of people ask me the secrets to my success. One is that I wouldn’t have hesitated to go get the cheesecake. I would have gone to get the cheesecake five or six times if I had to — and enjoyed every minute of it just to have a chance to be in the record industry.
Ashton Kutcher refers to you as Frank, the black Frank Sinatra. Do you feel a kinship with Sinatra?
It was Chuck D who had called me the black Frank Sinatra. I think that there are parallels: different ups and downs we’ve gone through, problems with women and, I guess, his lifestyle.
How does Eminem stack up against Biggie and Tupac?
I think Eminem’s up there with the best of them. Biggie and Tupac, that’s another type of beast, though. They was just some other shit, in a totally separate category, like the Hall of Fame. I think Eminem will definitely join them one day, just like Nas, Jay-Z, Jadakiss and 50 Cent will. But I wouldn’t compare players that’s still playing right now to people that’s in the Hall of Fame.
What’s the hottest performance you’ve seen recently?
I just saw a real hot performance by T.A. T.U. [at the MTV Movie Awards]. Five hundred girls stripping, taking their clothes off, kissing each other. They were throwing their clothes at me and Ashton, for some reason. I was a little jealous — I definitely wished I’d thought of that one first.
Do you have an iPod?
Yeah, it’s got a lot of stuff that I like that I bought and downloaded. I made up libraries of some of my favorite things.
Do you have a love-jam playlist?
I got a “boning” section for when I have sex. I put all the records that I could make great love to on there. One right after the other.
It starts with Prince’s “Adore.” I got a little bit of Marvin Gaye in the middle there, “Distant Lover,” and a bunch of R. Kelly. Everything that’s real sexual I got up in that joint.
Which musicians have the best fashion sense?
I like everybody’s individuality. I like the fact that I’m not seeing a lot of artists repeating each other. Except for all the jerseys — that bothers me sometimes. I like Bono from U2. I like Eve’s style. I like my style. I like Jennifer Lopez’s style. I think Jay-Z’s style does him.
J. Lo, huh?
I’m a lover, not a hater.