Diddy – Dirty Money
Last Train To Paris
Bad Boy, Interscope
You would think a man who has changed his name so many times would be comfortable with his own self imposed genre shift. Yet, after all this time, and all that he’s proven to himself and the world, he’s still nervous to let people hear him “sing”. Diddy as he’s know these days, started his singing over rapping evolution with his last album “Press Play”. With this album the singing has gone full scale, and it’s actually good. I’m growing to prefer it to his previous “rapping”. When Diddy sings with his flanger effect it sounds better suited for him, it’s more natural and relaxing to the ear. (Angels doesn’t get old for me, It reminds me of Seal at times, and is up there with the Benjamins, baby.) All through the years whenever I’ve heard Diddy start to rap I’ve winced and watched with one eye open fearing your boy is about to crash. It’s usually hit or miss if he can make it though a verse and come off lyrically astute. I think he knows deep down lyrics aren’t his shine, as Madonna knows her vocal range leaves a bit to be desired. We all know that’s not what has made Diddy the man he is today. Rather, since the 90s Puff has always had an inspiring knack of discovering and developing up and coming talent. He is the master of samples, his production is always on point, and he’s always had an all star entourage to work with and churn out hits. This album, the long awaited and much hyped “Last Train To Paris” is no exception to Diddy’s rule. His all star on the rise talent carries him through the album and would outshine him, if his ego would let them.
Diddy has always gotten slack for being one of the first to commercialize hip hop, therefore we should expect nothing less from the mogul as he continues his efforts to reign. Although “Last Train To Paris” includes record breaking usage of the word “m*therfucker” that doesn’t make it a hip hop album. Being EuroDance inspired it is in good company of tracks like “Closer” by Ne-yo, and aligns with the dance hip-hop merger taking place in the charts. This is not “P.Diddy and the Family”, It’s not even “The Saga Continues”. This is conflicted Emo Diddy who would rather hug, than thug it out. This works for his emerging mainstream wallet and in the non forgiving genre of hip hop, you have to ask yourself who is he competing against now? Who is he marketing to? My 49 year old white aunt has the single “Angels” from this album as her ring tone. She paid $3.99 for the initial download, and pays a fee each month to Mr.Combs so that she can hum the jingle when her phone rings. This is who Diddy is marketing to, whether he realizes it or not. My aunt is also a Black Eyed Peas fan, and this album is far more competition to Fergie and her clan with all it’s electro synth dance funk than it would be to say T.I or Jay.
Basically, after all the hype and the wait – For true hip-hop heads, It’s listenable, with a few stand out throwback Puffy style tracks. Especially “Someone to love me” which offers an epic sample and the best lyrics on album which profile deep shit for Diddy. “The hustle, I got that honestly from my father.. When you ain’t got dough, you scratch and you crawl, and your state of mind ain’t I want something, I want it all, look at the sky wonder when it’s gonna fall”. As a hip hop head from the Golden Age of hip hip I would have been more than happy for ten more tracks like this one.. but I digress. For radio, this album will be perfect, and for the average listener, it should be pretty enjoyable. Diddy’s raps have always been add lib style, uncomfortable, and fumbling along as if he has two thumbs. Yet Dirty Money ladies Dawn Richard (Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper never let you get focused on Diddy’s lyrical shortcomings. Instead they enrapture you with their new in the game voices and get your incited about the fierce threat these ladies will be as solo acts. (Both have albums coming out next year.) “Hate You Now” is a perfect example of this. The nasty opening beats make way for perfect female vocals from the first note. The track explains the trials of a love-hate relationship. “ I don’t need nobody like you.. don’t go..I want you.. I hate you..I hate loving you, I don’t wanna be without you” Later you hear the same lady singing the “P” word on “Your Love”. Plenty of women in the game have rapped about it, but to hear it sung was something else. On this track we really didn’t need a puffy verse, but he couldn’t help himself. I mean it is HIS dirty money so straight in the middle of a great song about sex you hear: “Bitch you know I’m Diddy hoe, real dilly yo..” etc etc not one lyric of his verse has to do with sex, it’s just his awkward rap attempting to blow himself up. If you were already wondering about these girls solo careers, this was good ammunition. It would have been better to let the ladies shine on just one track, but ever the hype man, puff won’t let it happen.
Diddy’s ego can’t help but almost bastardize the project and at times you will hear his classic elementary school lines like: “Smoke weed listening to Sade. I left my pain in Paree, why can’t you see things my way. “ You start to roll your eyes and begin to fear him opening his mouth, but you are quickly saved by one the girls and tight production so you’re not completely distracted, tweens won’t bat an eye.
The Prince stylistic elements of “Shades” will force the track to grow on you. “Strobe Lights” almost tricked me into thinking Little Wayne was singing too. It’s actually a skillful blend between Wayne’s rap, Diddy’s singing and the ladies harmonies. Check out the deluxe edition for Diddy singing beginning to end on a track saying things like: “ You showed me my love just wasn’t enough.. you know I’m always your friend.. I promise I will change.. even though I promised you everything i ain’t changed.. I’m still the same. “ ….Nother’ day in the life of the commission?
While his singing voice is lovely, and I prefer it to his “rapping” he walks a fine line with appearing completely soft with some of his swan songs on LTTP. He also comes off a bit contradictory. In an MTV interview Diddy stated: “A lot of records out right now — no disrespect to them, but they’re all surface. It’s about what people have or a dance. All our records are gonna be about love, feelings and emotion.” A few minutes later you inevitably hear about Channel, Tiffanys, and 100 bottles. Is that not what you HAVE Diddy? “Let’s not forget back in brooklyn, where it all began..” he sings, but only in one track does it seem he really remembers, still. Reminder: There are no trains to Paris from Brooklyn.
Watch out for Grammy nominated upcoming Skylar Grey featured on the last track “coming home”, Peep the video here. (They always walking in their videos, maybe the destination will appear in a new video.) You won’t see Skylar, but you will hear her in the opening of the song, and lightly on the chorus. She co-wrote “Love the Way You Lie” by Rihanna and Eminem (along with performing piano, background vocals and serving as co-producer on the Piano Version) Her voice is ethereal and she’ll be going places with her upcoming solo album. For Fun, count how many times “M’fer” and “ass” are overused on the record, may make for a good time killer on a road trip!