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Europe didn't just provide an evocative backdrop for the story that is Last Train to Paris, it also inspired the sound. Though Combs is known for his contribution to hip hop, he is also a passionate fan of dance music, often traveling to global hot spot slike Ibiza and Berlin to take in the new sounds emerging from the techno scene. Blending elements of UK grime, Mediterranean techno and the 808s of American hip hop, the album represents a new sound that Combs calls "train music."
No stranger to the finer things, Combs amassed a crew of some of the top names in music to help him bring his vision to life. TI, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne all lend guest vocals, but the biggest contribution comes from band members Dawn Richard and Kalenna. "Dawn and I aren't background singers simply standing next to Diddy," says Kalenna. "Diddy-Dirty Money isn't just more of the same. It's an organic group that grew out of a shared passion for music."
Kalenna started writing songs at 11, when she would accompany her fathera rapper and army maninto the studio. As a military daughter, she moved often, living in diverse locations including Alaska, Germany and Hawaii. In music, she found a home for herself even as "home" was constantly changing. "Growing up, I understood how music can take you away and help you escape," she says. "At the same time I began learning how music brings people together; how it can heal and comfort." She eventually channeled her talent for songwriting into a successful career penning hits for Jill Scott, Jennifer Lopez, Timbaland and multi-platinum producer Rodney Jerkins.
Dawn Richard will be recognizable to fans as a member of the group Danity Kane, formed via the MTV series Making the Band 3. The New Orleans native grew up watching her father perform. A musician, choir director and former member of R&B group Chocolate Milk, he instilled in her a love of music, even as her tastes evolved. "I was more into alternative music," she says, naming influences including The Cranberries, Sheryl Crow and Green Day. "I saw myself as the leader of a rock band with pink hair, singing the music I love."
When Combs paired Richard and Kalenna together to write songs for Danity Kane in 2009, he knew immediately that he had a powerful new songwriting team, describing them as "kindred spirits." With so many far-reaching influences between them, combining forces as Dirty Money is nothing less than "divine intervention," says Richard. "We mirror each other. We're all perfectionists with a strong work ethic. We push and challenge each other."
The trio's unmatched creative chemistry reveals itself in the latest blockbuster single "Hello Good Morning." The group premiered the single in front of 25 million viewers on American Idol on March 31st. The high-energy track, with its urgent, atmospheric beats, was perfectly suited to an explosive performance with spectacular special effects. Idol producers even issued a warning to viewers about the intense strobe lights used onstage.
Ross, who also lent vocals to the lead single "Angels", is just another member of the extended Dirty Money family. Lil Wayne was passionate about the new sound being crafted, and dropped verses on "Strobe Lights", a teasing, funky club banger, and "Shades", a trippy track also featuring Bilal. Mario Winans produced the 80s-influenced "Give My All To You" while Rodney Jerkins produced the international party jam "I Want Your Love."
"I'll even take off my shades," sings (yes, sings) Combs on "Twisted", hinting at a new, emotional core to his sound. The multilayered track represents some of the many influences of Last Train. With a soaring synth riff that reflects the head-trip that is falling in love, he recalls a post-millennial Prince. Other tracks veer from tribal drums to church organs to gritty instrumentals, all combining to form the new sound.
While Combs has had unsurpassed success in many different realms, from fashion to spirits to film, the lush soundscape of Last Train represents a renewed commitment to music from the multitalented impresario. By opening up a chapter of his own life to tell the story, he's crafted an album that is expressive and exciting. Sure, this album will make you dance, but Dirty Money is more than just dance music. It's a movement.