♫ Dirty Money feat. Chris Brown – Yesterday
Last Train To Paris is probably rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs’ first foray into the world of conceptual albums. With it being three years in the making, Combs describes the album as a vivid love story, following his character on a journey from London to Paris. Along with former Danity Kane star, Dawn Richard and singer/songwriter, Kalenna Harper (who’s characters are named Neon and Flux), Diddy finds the woman of his dreams, loses her, finds her again, only to lose her once more, and then reunite with her a final time. Some may have argued that such a task may have been a little ambitious for Combs, but Last Train To Paris flows almost seamlessly to tell the story.
At first, it may have been fair to say that Diddy was jumping on the bandwagon of the electronica, Europop and dance sound for his latest album, but judging from the material on the album, Combs really understands the groove and feeling of the sound. It sounds quite authentic, and rightfully so, with the myriad of the producers that appear on the album, including Rob Holladay, Swizz Beatz, Danja, Seven Aurelius, Polow Da Don and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, to name a few. Usually, when an album boasts so many producers, listeners can tend to get lost in the sauce, but the sounds fuse very well, which also deliberately showcases Diddy’s taste, which some may think comes into question a lot. It’s almost as if you can listen to the album track by track, without knowing when the song switches, until the mood does.
One might also argue that a distraction lies on the album with a conflict between Dawn and Kalenna being featured vocalists and the sixteen other featured artists on the album. But the honesty of the situation is, when listening to the album, you’re enjoying yourself way too much to even notice. The collaborations fit in strategically, and Kalenna and Dawn stay afloat as the supporting characters to Diddy’s protagonist. Besides, who could get mad at features from Grace Jones, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, Notorious B.I.G., and Bilal? And that’s just where they begin.
The story is told effortlessly, but there are few moments on Last Train To Paris that shine brighter than others. The highest points lie on the tracks where the most emotions are displayed, be it in the vocal or the lyrics. Chris Brown and Diddy lay it on thick on “Yesterday,” where Chris croons, “Yesterday I fell in love/Today feels like my funeral/I just got hit by a bus/Shouldn’t have been so beautiful/Don’t know why I gave my heart, gave my trust, gave everything…” while the rapping Diddy cosigns by chanting, “I don’t comprehend how you can’t love, when it’s so easy to.”
Kalenna and Dawn have their crowning moments on the album too, with the blaring “Ass On the Floor,” the album’s next single, as well as Grace Jones-assisted “Yeah Yeah You Would” and the smooth, piano-driven, “I Hate That You Love Me.” Another moment on the album can be found in “Shades,” which feels like something stolen straight off of Prince’s B-Sides.
There’s no denying that Last Train To Paris delivered, despite the time it took to wait for it. It’s clear that after the success of the Keyshia Cole-featured “Last Night” from 2006′s Press Play, Diddy decided to stretch the feel into a whole album, and did so with much success. It’s refreshing to get a concept album in a genre that would usually conflict in, considering that more recently, we haven’t gotten to see as many sides and dimensions of hip hop and R&B. There’s most definitely something for everyone here.