Credit: Steve Mack/

He may not be the best rapper in the game, but boy, Diddy can throw a party.

Last Friday (April 22) he and his Dirty Money crew‘s Coming Home Tour stopped at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. It was literally a homecoming for Diddy, a Harlem native.

So instead of the refined and rehearsed offering several other cities likely received during the tour’s run, Diddy gave his hometown more, pulling several guests on stage and making it less of a Diddy-Dirty Money show and more of a nostalgic review of his Bad Boy Records heyday.

Diddy, along with DM singers Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper, performed a few cuts from their Last Train to Paris early on. Diddy emerged dipped in white from head to toe and the trio performed “Ass on the Floor,” “Yeah, Yeah You Would,” “Yesterday,” and even an emotional medley of Sade’s classics, including “No Ordinary Love.”

Surprisingly, Diddy seemed a bit nervous up there at the start—as if uncertain of his Dirty Money material. To his credit, Train is an experimental hip-hop album we loved. Although as far as sales are concerned, it’s not a fan favorite (released last December, it hasn’t gone gold yet). And the audience’s halfhearted responses to their solid opening half hour proved as much.

But as he slid into the next portion of his set and the girls left, so did his nerves. After a roll call of the city’s boroughs, Diddy stopped to introduce Queens icon and A Tribe Called Quest rhymer Q-Tip, who brought the crowd to life with “Check the Rhime” and his solo banger “Vivrant Thing.”

From then on, only undeniable Bad Boy records boomed. “All About the Benjamins” rang out, followed by the joyous keys of “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Suddenly Diddy, who changed into an era appropriate Versace shirt, was looking more like the Puff Daddy of yore. He left his old moniker’s shiny suits in 1997, but kept the dance moves—skipping and bopping with arms flailing like he wasn’t the 41-year-old man he is.

The crowd matched his energy, screaming and reciting each line and lyric. The ballroom looked like a club, glasses and hands raised with hips grooving. P. Diddy also invited the family out. A hooded Black Rob crept onto the stage for his 2000 smash “Whoa!”; Faith Evans strutted out for her honeyed “Love Like This.”

Even Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil’ Cease stepped on briefly for “Player’s Anthem.” An obligatory but never old homage to Diddy’s best friend and fallen rap icon Biggie was partnered with a rendition of his Grammy-winning tribute “I’ll Be Missing You,” which capped the vintage Bad Boy set.

The show could have ended there—in fact, a bunch of fans began to head towards the door after. But there was a little more. We were reminded that it was supposed to be a Dirty Money show. Dawn and Kaleena returned for “Coming Home.” Then “Hello, Good Morning,” highlighted by an elaborate light spectacle, brought the evening to a close.

It’s amazing what personality, or as Diddy called it, “Raw, uncut swag,” can make up for. His delivery as a lyricist is underwhelming and has been throughout his 20 years in the business. On Friday night, however, his status as a top-tier MC was undeniable. He was the master of a stellar ceremony. And he certainly moved the crowd.

Have you seen Diddy-Dirty Money on tour? Planning on it? Let us know.

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