Diddy - Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris Music Album Reviews

Diddy - Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris Music Album Reviews
Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today we revisit Sean “Diddy” Combs’ 2010 side project: a dark and stormy concept album about one man’s transit through love.

The act of adopting a new nickname has become an astrological event for the artist-producer born Sean Combs. He got the name Puffy from a childhood friend who said a young Combs would huff and puff when he was mad; of course, this was before the Puff Daddy moniker became synonymous with happy new-money raps and wealth. Then came his first major rebrand: In 2001, he changed his alias to P. Diddy fresh after a breakup with Jennifer Lopez and a very public trial where he was acquitted on gun charges. Four years later, he was just Diddy, having dropped the “P” because, as he said, it was getting between him and his fans.

This year, as part of his latest reinvention, Combs has co-opted the world’s most complicated emotion and turned it into a lifestyle built around positive affirmations and unity. He now calls himself Love, a word that is everything to him: a sensation, a hashtag, a vibe, and the name of his nebulous club. But the Diddy of 2010 had a much more cynical view of love. His fifth studio album, Last Train to Paris, released that December, tells the story of a romance doomed by distance. Combs is the jilted protagonist who envisions love as a vast, deceptive, often unattainable warmth. At a time when hip-hop was still easing out of 50 Cent’s clutches, an electro-rap concept record about feelings was a legitimately bold move. Combs described Paris very abstractly as “train music,” equating trains with sensuality, movement, and the rhythms of the heart. His interviews, accordingly, blurred the lines between commerce and genuine introspection on the subject. “I’ve always fucked love up,” he told the Guardian in 2010, adding that love was something he felt he could never “achieve and conquer.” He was 40, a multimillionaire bachelor, confessing to journalists that he was lonely.

Though he’d rapped about his personal life before, Combs positioned Last Train to Paris as more than an album: It was an all-new sound, energy, and vibration through which he could revolutionize pop. He’d been a fan of acts like the British dance trio Loose Ends (featuring two men, one woman) and figured he needed a woman’s perspective to actualize his vision, so he commissioned Dawn Richard from his successful girl group Danity Kane and fellow singer-songwriter Kalenna Harper to join him under the name Diddy-Dirty Money. The resulting album took three years to complete, and when it landed, it wasn’t as clairvoyant as Combs initially planned. By then, David Guetta-fronted Eurodance (Akon’s “Sexy Bitch,” etcetera) was crashing parties and spilling over Solo cups, and hip-hop was changing. So Far Gone and 808 & Heartbreaks had both arrived well before Paris, flipping the tone of mainstream rap from tough to emo. What Combs did was more intentional: he took these intersecting trends and packaged them into a savvy collaborative effort. With Paris, he made a convenient, prophetic statement, embracing his love scars just as a new generation of rappers began pouring their resentments about relationships onto songs.

Grief is a familiar, tragic part of the Diddy brand. The No. 1 hit that launched him into solo stardom, “I’ll Be Missing You,” was an elegy for his friend and protégé, The Notorious B.I.G. Combs released his debut solo album, 1997’s No Way Out, while battling depression in a world without Biggie, whose death set up an entirely new challenge for Combs. The budding pop superstar known as Puff Daddy had spent the decade building an empire in his own image, comprised of a record label (Bad Boy Entertainment), a clothing brand (Sean John), fragrances, a hit reality TV franchise (MTV’s Making the Band), and a luxury vodka (Cîroc). All the while, the world saw him not as an artist foremost but as a rapping executive with a capable squad of ghostwriters. As 50 Cent once taunted in an interview, “An artist would be someone who actually wrote something on a record.”

It wasn’t that the classification bothered Combs—he understood the instinct to view him primarily as an entrepreneur. But going from a mogul sidekick to the main character meant his artistry had to grow in real-time. “When I became an artist, I wasn’t really prepared,” he told Spin in a 2010 interview. “I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I wasn’t trying to do it at that level yet. I feel like I’m in my most artistic phase right now.” Biggie’s death evidently launched Combs into a space where besides rapping, producing, and dancing in videos, he had to become both the star and curator of his solo albums, which to him required more foresight and reinvention. Even so, he’s never really an island on his projects. Paris is organized behind a higher concept, but like his previous work, it still functions as a compilation where Diddy is the greatest showman.

As good artistry does, though, Paris wound up telegraphing a shift in the air of hip-hop. Lil Wayne performs slam poetry on two tracks, which should tell you everything you need to know about the album’s mood. “Before you get here, put yo’ panties in yo’ pocketbook/That’s what I told her/Over the Motorola,” he recites breezily to open “Shades.” Spoken word is certainly not not Weezy’s medium—he adds a necessary lightness to the whole affair. Diddy’s rhyme schemes, in comparison, are quaint as love letters scrawled on loose-leaf, like streams of consciousness that skip from vexed queries (“I don’t comprehend how you can’t love when it’s so easy to,” he says on “Yesterday”) to full diatribes (“You’s a motherfuckin’ bitch to me/You just let me bleed,” he vents on “Hate You Now”). His raps are distractingly simple across the album, leaving space for Richard and Harper to be the true stars. Their more indulgent textures add dimension to the songwriting and overshadow Combs by design. When Richard flits from whispering her lines to exerting force on “I Hate That You Love Me” (“Love is in, then it’s out,” she sings), she’s adding deeper tones than Diddy can, even when her lyrics are straightforward.

On songs where Combs is a shadow, his collaborators—in this case, a suite of 19 other producers and 17 artists ranging from Grace Jones to Rick Ross—step in to effectively mirror his ennui. Trey Songz and Usher sound like pure sugar on “Your Love” and “Looking for Love,” respectively. Justin Timberlake summons his FutureSex self on “Shades,” but it’s Bilal and James Fauntleroy who gel beautifully on the hook, posing a charming yet bitter, harmonized hypothetical: “What you gonna do/When I’m perfect for you?” Does the song need a committee of voices? Not really, but it seems the more misery, the better. Drake offers a typical lament on “Loving You No More,” with a verse that matches the album’s overall theme of selfish love.

Combs is the most impassioned when he’s deep into warbling zone, like on his self-produced (with Mario Winans) “Angels,” a hip-hop soul ballad that masterfully contrasts his agony with Ross’ glossy boasts, rolling synths, and a flawless resurrected Biggie verse (“Dying ain’t the shit, but it’s pleasant/Kinda quiet,” Big offers). Like West did with 808s, Diddy saw Auto-Tune as the perfect tool to capture and transmit his cold despair. And though T-Pain didn’t invent automatic pitch correction, he influenced the Paris sound so much that Combs initially asked his “permission” to use Auto-Tune. The album’s engineer Matt Testa said Combs later gave Pain a royalty point.

There is a vibrancy to the atmosphere of Paris that seems to refract its cynicism. The effect is cool and industrial, with whirs and buzzes paced at the speed of a treadmill sprint. Lasers shoot through the Danja-produced “Yeah Yeah You Would” like arrows, and a hyper drumline powers Swizz Beatz’s “Ass on the Floor.” On “I Hate That You Love Me,” Combs compares Rodney Jerkins’ deceptively happy chords to “the way love feels.” The environment feels dark and confined like the dankest EDM venue, with the vulnerable, heartstring-pulling ethos of 808s. Similarly, the songwriting can quickly go from clunkers to devastatingly concise bars: “Yesterday, I fell in love/Today feels like my funeral,” Chris Brown drones relatably on one of the latter tracks, “Yesterday,” a better club ballad than his other cameo, the pulsing “I Know,” featuring Wiz Khalifa. The album’s most glaring disaster is “Coming Home,” a dreary, well-intentioned song about triumph in mourning.

A sense of loss looms over Paris, a place where love is clearly for sale. The bluster of it all threatens to extract you from the experience. You can hear the album actively striving for innovation in the background—before Combs begins crying out on “Yeah Yeah You Would,” there’s Swizz Beatz, noting that what we’re about to witness is “a brand new sound.” It wasn’t exactly that. We’d already heard versions of these weeps by then, though not in this setting: a dark and stormy dance record about a fickle emotion. Over a decade later, with rap fluent in more love languages than ever, Paris appears even more forward-thinking. The album remains a relic of a transitional period in hip-hop when rappers began openly embracing the idea of wearing their bruised hearts and egos on their sleeves. They haven’t stopped bleeding since.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Diddy - Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris Music Album Reviews Diddy - Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 01, 2021 Rating: 5


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