People laughed when Diddy announced that his next project would be a concept album about a tempestuous relationship played out on Europeâ€™s international rail system. They laughed when he declared that his ambitions were so major, no existing genre could hold him.
â€œIâ€™m ushering in a new movement called â€˜train music,â€™â€ the hip-hop mogul boasted in one press release.
That was in February 2009, and the laughs only got louder each time he pushed back the album release date.
Read the full review of the “Last Train to Paris” after the jump.
Now Last Train to Paris is finally pulling into the station, and hereâ€™s the funniest thing about it: Diddy has followed through on every crazy promise and then some, resulting in his best work in years.
â€œTrain musicâ€ turns out to be a highly danceable strain of hip-hop, with at least as much singing as rapping. Diddy isnâ€™t the only one working loosely similar territory these days â€” just ask the Black Eyed Peas, Drake, or even Kanye West â€” but Last Trainâ€˜s glittery grooves feel authentically his own. Itâ€™s the sound of his 2007 hit â€œLast Night,â€ an electro-laced torch duet with Keyshia Cole, blown out to album length.
Perhaps realizing that he canâ€™t quite pull off this feat all by himself, Diddy gives equal billing to two singers, Kalenna and ex-Danity Kane member Dawn Richard. The female two-thirds of Diddy-Dirty Money flesh out Last Trainâ€˜s skeletal storyline, playing jealous lovers, disappointed partners, and commanding divas to his conflicted playboy. Assorted suave fellows, including Usher, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and T.I., help fill out his side of the conversation.
As that partial guest list might suggest, this is a very crowded ride. The sheer number of cameos overwhelms the narrative conceit after a while, around the moment when Justin Timberlake inexplicably starts rapping about X-Men characters (â€œShadesâ€). But who really cares? By that time, you just might be enjoying yourself way too much to notice. B+