Sean Combs talks to EW about the hip-hop CEOs' first collaboration in the studio in 10 years, and feeling Biggie's spirit

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated August 04, 2020 at 11:33 AM EDT
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/

A viewing of Ridley Scott’s film American Gangster inspired Jay-Z to record his upcoming album of the same name, due Nov. 6. But Jay also drew inspiration from the work of a fellow rapper/CEO: Sean ”Diddy” Combs, who has produced six likely American Gangster cuts so far with his studio squad, The Hitmen.

It’s a notable moment, considering that the last time Combs contributed beats to a Jay-Z album was on 1997’s In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, back when he was still called ”Puff Daddy.” ”With us two getting together, people are going to come with some expectations,” Combs tells EW. ”Before, we were both just starting out and just so hot, it didn’t matter. Now it matters. Your legacy is at stake every time.”

At a recent in-studio listening session, Jay told EW that during the album’s recording he often wore a chain which belonged to the Notorious B.I.G., who was close to both Jay and Combs before his 1997 murder. ”He gives up a lot of respect to Biggie,” says Combs. ”The thing that I like about him is that he’s so much not like Biggie — his style is so unique to Jay-Z. I definitely feel like on this album, the spirit of Big got up in him, though.”