Review Summary: Diddy begins a trek to reclaim the girl he loves and inadvertently copies Kanye almost every step of the way.
Anybody well acquainted with the 90’s hip-hop scene is familiar with Sean Combs, alternatively known by a bevy of aliases. The Bad Boy record exec.’s legacy is a tried and true rags-to-riches story, but does its part in holding up the saying “it’s a cut throat world.” Combs has garnered a reputation for ‘using’ artists and throwing them away when he’s done with them; in essence, being a Grade-A a**hole and, euphemistically speaking, just doing his job. When not being a cold-hearted industry figurehead, Diddy dabbles in music making himself, often to the chagrin of anybody with a set of functioning ears. Nonetheless, he has twelve chart-topping hits under his belt and has succeeded in moving twelve million units internationally. Last Train to Paris
is his fifth release and it’s better than you think it’d be.
Diddy stated himself that one of the aims of the album was to “express emotion,” adding that he intended it to be a breath of fresh air, as so many records out were the same old song and dance, failing to transcend superficiality. But a glance at the tracklisting and the statement is an obvious paradox. Diddy stands alongside a myriad of big name contemporary R&B and mainstream hip-hop artists and the Dirty Money duo comprised of vocalists Kalenna Harper and Dawn Richard (both formerly of Danity Kane). Although this is to be expected, it’s disappointing and due to the overall vocal ineptness, the only thing the LP can really feed off of emotionally is its concept. Believe it or not, Last Train to Paris
is, in fact, a love story; one that is fleshed out by a poor cast, but a love story nonetheless. Pleasingly enough, the plot is neither obtusely simple nor complex and intricate. In summation, a passionate, unfulfilled one-night fling turns into a quest that finds our hero Diddy making transatlantic crossings, yearning for second chances, and traversing a couple of Western Europe metropolises in a hectic search for the love of his life.
Lest you forget, the ultimate crux of this album is its sonic aesthetic, but it’s a sturdy crux at that. Despite taking a decidedly poppy direction, Last Train to Paris
transcends the traditional American hip-pop vein in favor of a more mature fusion of electronica and dance music with distinctive European accents. The production is infectious and almost impels dancing, but it’s a more sophisticated strain of club music. Its influences are far reaching, varying from techno to house, disco to Europop, and the music in and of itself is incredibly well-developed. Under all of its technical complexity and artiness, there’s a prevailing, odd soulfulness to it, and that’s an achievement in and of itself.
New York Magazine posed a quasi-rhetorical question on Last Train to Paris
in its compare/contrast article: “Could Diddy’s [artsy] electronic epic be more interesting than Kanye’s [artsy rock] one"” The answer is a blatant ‘no.’ Despite being Diddy’s magnum opus, it’s ultimately just a dressed-up pop album, and even worse, an unrealized concept. Last Train to Paris
is propelled by sheer ambition and magnificent production and, quite frankly, that’s just not enough. A well-planned idea does not equal a well-done one, and when it’s all said and done, Last Train to Paris
isn’t the latter.