You’ve gotta love the bombastic silliness of Bad Boys II, an album of mostly new material produced by the likes of P. Diddy and the Neptunes that assembles the current kings and queens of the hip-hop and R&B worlds to shill for a Will Smith-Martin Lawrence farce. Jay-Z, Nelly, 50 Cent, Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Foxy Brown, Justin Timberlake, and the inescapable Diddy are all here. The music ranges from so-so to pretty damn catchy, and the collaborations between the disparate artists often seem like shotgun weddings. Take ”Show Me Your Soul,” a propulsive mash-up that features the unlikely alliance of Diddy, Lenny Kravitz, the Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams, and a new rapper named Loon. It’s got that easily identifiable, winning Neptunes vibe and is filled with loopy pronouncements like ”It’s gettin’ sexy in here.” Then there’s Snoop and Loon’s ”Gangsta S—,” which, with its carnivalesque swirl of sound (produced by Diddy), is a sight more engaging than its clichéd title would lead you to believe. Elsewhere, Blige indulges in some impressive scat singing on ”Didn’t Mean,” while Timberlake represents for white boys everywhere with a bit of Diddy-produced fluff called ”Love Don’t Love Me.”
Perhaps the most risible cut is the final one, M.O.P.’s ”Wanna Be G’s,” which is so rife with chesty bluster (”I punch big bouncers in they faces/Put grimy little bitches in they places”) and gratuitous use of the N-word that it functions as a parody of the gangsta genre. Sadly, one suspects they’re not kidding. It’s an unfortunate ending to an otherwise light and bouncy platter. Oh, those bad boys – whatcha gonna do with them?