Diddy/Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris
Record Label: Bad Boy, Interscope
Release Date: December 13, 2010
Diddy has seriously gone through his ups and down. Diddy (formerly known as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, etc. etc.), who hadn't been all too relevant in the hip-hop game in the last few years, seemed to have disappeared from at least being an artist. I think the last hit he had was in 2007, and that was quickly forgotten. For every great song he has put out (the "I Need a Girl" series), he has put out his fair share of duds ("Come to Me"). You can't deny that Diddy understands music, and can put out a great product when he truly puts forth the effort. I'm not entirely sure what his motivation was for this specific project, but he seems to have struck gold with Dirty Money, which consists of singers Dawn Richards (formerly of Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper (several uncredited performances before joining Diddy's crew). The album that this trio has released, Last Train to Paris, is nothing short of a spectacular effort. I was shocked at how much I liked at this album, and it was one of my favorite hip-hop albums in the last two or so years.
My main thing when it comes to music, especially hip-hop/rap, is the production. As expected with a Diddy record, the best are brought out on this record: Swizz Beatz ("Ass on the Floor"), Alex da Kid ("Coming Home"), and Danja ("Yeah You Would"). The beats are original, catchy, and most of all, compliment Diddy-Dirty Money's style of flow. Whether the tempo is fast or slow, the instrumentals keep you engaged throughout their respective tracks.
The album starts off with a low-key "Intro," which sets up "Yeah You Would," which really showcases Dawn Richards and Kalenna Harper's vocals, which is featured in the first verse and choruses; this was actually one of my favorites in the album. The next track, "I Hate that You Love Me," is a low-key song, which revolves around the hook of the song. The next song blew me away, "Ass on the Floor." As mentioned before, this is produced by Swizz Beatz, and it is noticeably one of his better works. His use of marching snare and off-beat bell hits really drive this song, complemented with synth-strings to allow the vocals to stand out. This song actually changes direction in the middle before Dirty Money takes over the song and takes it home; this song is by far my favorite.
"Looking for Love," "Your Love," and "Yesterday," featuring Usher, Trey Songz, and Chris Brown are all songs that tackle a common theme in this album, love; the latter discusses regrets, the middle talks about the most sexually-aggressive component, and the former is about finding someone to hook up with. Different parts of love/sex, which normally come across as stale, and for good reason. None of these songs are musically very strong; however, all these experienced vocalists give the song more flavor and turn it into more of a style they're accustomed to without changing the dynamic of the album. "I Know" is a very catchy song which features Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, and Seven of the group Rich Girl. Wiz's verse kills in this song, but Chris Brown's part could have been better. The chorus is one of the catchier on this album.
"Someone to Love" gives a more old-skool feel, which is definitely a throwback to Diddy's really early work. The older-style R&B hook in the song gives this song a different feel than the other songs on this record, which is completely fine with me. It's different, but doesn't throw off the feel of the album or anything. Most people are familiar with "Coming Home," which is a beautiful song from start to finish, and is the sole reason why I started listening to this album. Skylar Grey is getting more and more work, and she really deserves it, especially after this song. It's an anthem which you're not going to hear at a club, but you can see the passion start to finish in this song vocally, musically, and lyrically. The other hit single, "Hello Good Morning" features T.I., one of my personal favorite rappers. Like "Ass on the Floor, this song changes direction quite frequently, which makes me want to listen more and more because I have no idea what to expect. It's a great club hit, and I personally love to dance to this song.
I'm not entirely sure how much of this is Diddy's work, but he had a share in writing nearly every song. This is a great comeback for him, and a proper introduction for two underrated singers. Out of all of Diddy's work, this ranks right up there with his earlier material; in fact, this album is much more diverse, so it's musically way better. Whether you like him or not, this album did achieve a lot in the increasingly muddled hip-hop world. In a genre where people have to continually be innovative in order to stand out, Last Train to Paris does a great job of just that. Great listen, and I look forward to hearing more.
I actually was blown away by this album. Didn't have too many expectations going into it, but DDM released one of the most complex, interesting hip hop albums of the year, as well as one of the most enjoyable albums of any genre, in my opinion.