For Sean Combs, the only gesture worth making is a grand one.
In the late 1990s, the rapper, producer and record mogul best known as Puff Daddy was perhaps the most visible force of expansion in hip-hop, pushing the once-scrappy form to lavish extremes with songs (and videos) that borrowed the language of pop to glorify a proud but knowing ambition.
“I call all the shots, rip all the spots,” he rapped in “Mo Money Mo Problems,” his exuberant collaboration with the late Notorious B.I.G. and Mase, “Rock all the rocks, cop all the drops / I know you thinkin’ now, when all the ballin’ stops?”
So when Combs, now 46, brought...