There’s something about seeing the names Aretha Franklin and Puff Daddy (P. Diddy, Diddy, Sean Combs, take your pick) next to one another that will forever remain a unique combination. While their convergence is little-known, the two did come together on Aretha’s 1998 A Rose Is Still A Rose for one brief moment. The song, “Never Leave You Again” is a slick R&B mid tempo with jazzy sentiments.
As Aretha told Time Magazine in 1998, “I love the Puffy song on my album. It’s very jazzy, very cool, very easy.” In that respect, It’s actually a unique sonic moment in Puff’s discography of the time. In 1998, he was largely outputting harder hitting tracks, as opposed to some of the hip hop-soul he helped pioneer earlier in the 90’s with Mary J. Blige and Faith Evans, among others. Total’s 1998 album cut “Rain” is the closest comparable track to “Never Leave You Again”, but only in terms of percussion.
Cory Rooney and Kelly Price complete the trifecta behind this track, both co-writing track. Cory also adds his touch on the production side, known best for his hits with Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Lopez. Kelly’s voice fills in behind Aretha’s and considered among the strongest in music. Like on many other tracks, Kelly’s background vocals add a distinctive and contemporary layer, complimenting Aretha’s vocals.
The best part of this cut though, is when Aretha goes full jazz and starts scatting. It isn’t something she’d done on a record in years, and it’s something I wish she’d done more because boy could she scat. Aretha Franklin scatting over a Puff Daddy beat. Who would have thought?
Stream “Never Leave You Again”:
Farley, Christopher John. “Soul Sister 2000: Aretha on Her Past, Her Future, and Her Fabulous New Album.” Time Magazine, 2 Mar. 1998.