Biggie Smalls has kept busy in death. Funny how the raspy rap icon seems to always pop up come time to promote a new project from his consigliere/leech Sean “Diddy” Combs. As an eerie reminder: The pair’s final collaboration of B.I.G.’s lifetime was the tune “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)” on Life After Death. So when Diddy croons, with the aide of severe Auto-Tune, “Came from heaven just to sing a song for you,” guess who he’s talking about? Oh, yeah, Puff Daddy is singing in “Angels.” He’s better at designing baby clothes.
A smoky, echoing B.I.G. verse bookends this emo debut from Diddy’s new hip-pop trio. The bad news is that scrap from the vault floor is the highlight of this Hallmark sop. Those gooey, weed-haze rhymes pair perfectly with the neat ’90s beat—thick with bass, turntable crackles and synthetic snares that crack like .22s. The rest of the song shorts out like a crying robot. A Speak & Spell has more soul.