Release Date: Dec 14, 2010
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Rap, Club/Dance, Contemporary R&B
To invoke the classic Rodney Dangerfield adage, Diddy is a man who frequently gets no respect. Despite roughly two decades of accomplishments, when one thinks of the man and his output, 'talented musician' is probably not the first thing that pops to mind. Rather, the prevailing view of Diddy is a businessman in the Alan Sugar or Simon Cowell vein. Somebody who does an excellent job of getting a lot of things done, despite also being kind of ridiculous.
When Sean Combs first dipped his toe into the world of house music, it provoked more cringing than dancing. He kept at it, though, and when we heard his bizarre stream-of-consciousness spoken-word contribution on DJ Hell's techno track The DJ, it seemed plausible that the hip-hop pop star might manage to integrate underground dance music into his own chart-topping sound. Dirty Money is officially a trio featuring Danity Kane's Dawn Richards and singer/songwriter Kelenna Harper alongside Diddy himself.
You can come at Diddy’s 2010 effort from so many angles -- it’s a concept album about heartbreak, it introduces the two-woman group Dirty Money, it’s a house music album, his rapping is always up for debate, etc. -- that it’s hard to pick just one, but to call Last Train to Paris a departure is not just a pun; it ignores the future-pop side of his 2006 effort Press Play and that “Jack U” single he did with dance producer Felix da Housecat. Take those releases into consideration -- and that Diddy is more a slick ringleader than competition-challenging rapper -- and this heavily European-influenced effort is the natural payoff with only the concept and the group left as surprises.
This is a concept album (the "plot": Diddy meets and loses the girl of his dreams, and may or may not reach Paris in time to woo her back), but that needn't trouble us. There's quite enough to take in on his first album since 2006 without the complication of a storyline. There are new sounds, from Italian house to techno, a long list of stellar guests, and a new female duo, Dirty Money, who operate as the project's backbone, and deserve their equal billing.
Diddy is a lifetime subscriber to experimentation. Name changes, bands on TV, and what some would argue to be the go-to beverage of 2010: Ciroc vodka. While he was busy rolling out new flavors of firewaters, apparently he was busy cooking up a concept album as well. Last Train to Paris grabs Dirty Money and supposedly follows Diddy’s alter ego through a cross-country Euro trip chasing love.
The rap titan's ambitious new record may well deserve a standing ovation. Alex Macpherson 2011 A deeply ambitious journey into the mind of a hip hop titan comprising lengthy epics, a plethora of superstar guests, expensive-sounding beats from big-name producers, luxe signifiers of an opulent lifestyle, a fixation with the difficulty of loving someone through the prism (and prison) of a massive celebrity ego? No, it's not Kanye West's latest LP – but an album from a man more routinely, and unfairly dismissed. As part of the Dirty Money trio, Diddy – together with singers and songwriters Kalenna Harper and Dawn Richard – has made a seriously impressive artistic statement.