Diddy, Sean Combs

For some misguided and cowardly reason, it's become easier than ever for people to hate on those that innovate. We ask the artists of our time to push the culture forward and push aside what keeps it stagnant, yet are quick to judge when they play it safe and give us of "more of the same."

Say what you want about Sean "Diddy" Combs and his new group, Diddy Dirty Money's album, Last Train to Paris, but you can't say it's what you expected from Puff. This is a new day and a new sound for the Mt. Vernon, New York native (who will always be Puff Daddy in my eyes despite whatever name he chooses to call himself this week). In true "Puffy" fashion, he's put himself out there on centerstage with his latest effort, boldly challenging convention and daring you to hate.

But you can't, because the media mogul has created his most meaningful, honest and complete album since No Way Out. The album features cinematic moments like "Coming Home," "Hello Good Morning," and "Angels" that feel grandiose, alongside effortlessly cool tracks like "Someone To Love Me" and "Strobe Lights," and smooth radio friendly hits like '"Last Night Part 2" and "Loving You No More."

This album is consciously meant to be different, and to be played LOUD. As Swizz Beatz proclaims on the frenetic "Yeah Yeah You Would," "This is a brand new sound. This will change your life. All you gotta do is turn this sh*t up!"

And when you do, and you remove any hate that might permeate your heart, you're instantly transported to the posh nightclubs of London, the most exclusive spots in New York and Hollywood, and the sexy scenes of Tel Aviv and Rio. Last Train to Paris gracefully blends the worlds of pure European house music, rock star attitude, hip-hop swagger and R&B soul. The album feels like the culmination of Diddy's tumultuous journey through 3 decades in the music business.

No two songs sound the same, thanks in large part to a laundry list of collaborators ranging from the aforementioned Swizz Beatz, to superstars Li'l Wayne, Chris Brown, and Justin Timberlake, to hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross and T.I., and icons Grace Jones and the late Notorious B.I.G.

I've always seen Puff as the ringmaster to the circus that is the music business, and with his Dirty Money girls by his side, this is further evidence that he has a true knack for bringing artists and audiences together. Nobody tops his passion and there are few that can match the excitement he brings to every room he finds himself in, and every track he finds himself on.

Puff of course is known for his outward confidence and larger-than-life persona, but this time around, his expression seems to come from a more humble, honest and heartfelt place. The result is an eclectic collection of futuristic sounds that will surprise you, and grow on you with every listen.

I know I don't usually write about music, but every once in a while, an album catches me off guard and I feel compelled to share it with my world. Hope you give it a chance...BL

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