Diddy is a lifetime subscriber to experimentation. Name changes, bands on TV, and what some would argue to be the go-to beverage of 2010: Ciroc vodka. While he was busy rolling out new flavors of firewaters, apparently he was busy cooking up a concept album as well. Last Train to Paris grabs Dirty Money and supposedly follows Diddy’s alter ego through a cross-country Euro trip chasing love.
Although love is the obviously dominant theme in Last Train to Paris, the whole London-to-Paris journey gets lost in translation. This is just one of few disconnects that plagues Last Train to Paris. With a concept album not strong in concept, it doesn’t help that other things don’t make much sense either. Take the Swizz Beatz-produced “Ass On the Floor,” for example. Besides Swizz irritatingly repeating the words over the hook, the rest of the song has nothing to do with getting asses on the floors of clubs, rather it’s just a song about the painful side of love. This same disconnect happens on the Rick Ross-assisted “Angels,” also featuring Notorious B.I.G. Ross is on his typical “bawse” schtick, dropping bars such as “The last train to Paris / Wheels look like a ferris / You jewelers should be embarrassed / Rick the ruler my moola produce the karats / Let’s bow our heads / I gave you something to cherish.” But what does that have to do with a relationship where love has vanished, or a resurrected Biggie verse? Diddy’s concept isn’t so conceptually sound, and it doesn’t help when the elements that make the whole are equally as confusing.
Not surprisingly, the two main singles that have already hit the charts are the standouts of the album, in the form of “Hello Good Morning” featuring T.I. and “Loving You No More” featuring Drake. T.I. shines on the former while Diddy lays down his best verse on the entire album, and Dirty Money and Drake steal the show on the latter single. In fact, the female vocalists of Dirty Money (Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper) carry the weight on most of Last Train to Paris. Fortunately, Diddy’s verses are sparse, and give the ladies time to shine. Their vocals are strong, and mesh well with the equally as strong and creatively edgy production efforts from producers such as Danja, Polow da Don, Mario Winans, and more.
However, the poorly executed concept and subpar lyrical performance from Diddy don’t lift Last Train to Paris beyond mediocre status. Bars such as, “Are we living in vain? / Are we living in pain? / Girl, remember my name / And whatever remains / After we walk on white sand, let’s travel in style / Just wanna see you happy and smile / I can change your life in one flight lets take off tonight, come on…” as evidenced on “I Hate That You Love Me” are far from impressive, especially when other features on the project (such as Usher, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown) come through and do an amazing job. Overall, it feels like Last Train to Paris will be an album more tailored to the Pop scene, rather than the Hip Hop audience.