Diddy returns with free album entitled MMM

Diddy celebrated his 46th birthday on Wednesday.
Diddy celebrated his 46th birthday on Wednesday.AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Rap mogul Diddy on Wednesday celebrated his 46th birthday with a gift to others - a free album.

Diddy - whose real name is Sean Combs and whose stage names include Puff Daddy - announced that he would release the mixtape, entitled MMM, for free later in the day.

The rapper posted on Instagram a short video in which he is seen walking down a street in New York, with one of his hometown's signature yellow taxis near him, as passersby shout, "Happy birthday!"

"Good morning, New York! Today's my birthday and I'm out here in the streets of New York and it's a celebration. I'm dropping an album - a sonic motion picture," he said.

Diddy, who earlier announced the news at a birthday party in Harlem on Tuesday night, said that the mixtape would be called MMM and showed a back-cover picture of the rapper opening a bottle of champagne.

Diddy has rarely performed in recent years and has not released an album since Last Train To Paris in 2010.

In the meantime, he has become a successful businessman, especially through a venture selling French-made Ciroc liquor.

Wealth magazine Forbes estimated that he was the top-earning rapper in the year to June 2015, grossing US$60 million (S$84 million).

While the distinction between albums and mixtapes has increasingly become blurred in hip-hop, MMM is not believed to be a substitute for a long-awaited album by Diddy.

The rapper has said that he is working on a sequel to his debut 1997 work No Way Out - to be entitled No Way Out 2 - that will be his final album.

Diddy has spoken repeatedly about the MMM project without specifying the meaning of the acronym.

But Diddy's friend and fellow rapper Rick Ross last year said it stood for "Money Making Mitch," a reference to the 2002 film Paid In Full about drug-dealing in New York before the crack craze in the 1980s.