|(Matt Sayles/Associated Press)|
Diddy, the mogul and sometime rapper also known as Sean “Puffy’’ Combs, has an official explanation for his latest release. He writes on his website that “Last Train to Paris’’ is something of a concept album, inspired by a tumultous, trans-Atlantic relationship with a woman he met on tour in Europe. On a foggy night in London, the only way for him to reach her was by — you guessed it — the last train to Paris.
If that sounds absurdly romantic, you at least hear his passion and late-night seduction on Diddy’s contagious new album released under Diddy-Dirty Money, a band collaboration that prominently features the sultry singers Dawn Richard (formerly of Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper.
As with most of Diddy’s ventures, his presence is largely behind the scenes as he turns in intermittent rhymes and fleeting commentary on the album’s story line. Instead, he lets his female sidekicks do a lot of the heavy lifting (and breathing) on a wide range of songs that skirt the line between hip-hop, R&B, and European dance pop.
The album, Diddy’s first since 2006’s “Press Play,’’ also relies on some of the biggest names in his Rolodex. Everyone from Lil’ Wayne and Justin Timberlake (with back-to-back cameos on the slinky “Shades’’) to an A-list of fellow smooth operators (Usher, Drake, Trey Songz, and T.I.) flesh out the lineup.
There’s no telling why Grace Jones turns up on “Yeah Yeah You Would,’’ but she sounds right at home on the thumping club anthem. Her cameo is just one more pleasant surprise on an album full of them. (Out now) JAMES REED
ESSENTIAL “I Hate That You Love Me’’