Pinch me, I must be dreaming. Are we approaching Valentine’s Day? If this is the case, I didn’t get the memo. It feels like we are nearing February 14 with Puff Daddy’s new album that is all about love and R&B.
We have entered a new era in music, a pivotal moment. Just like when Joe Jackson created The Jackson 5 in the mid-60s.
Have we gotten back to the soul of the 90s? You know, when New Edition, Maxwell or Aaliyah were all over the charts.
I still remember the first time I fell in love with Diddy. It was in 2010.
Winter had just started. Back then, nobody was talking about the possibility of a pandemic. Climate Change wasn’t a top priority for us and politicians. Jean Charest was still Premier of Quebec. It was two years before the historic 2012 Quebec student protests.
I remember that month of December being extremely cold. We were lucky enough to play hockey on the lake before the holidays (which is unimaginable these days at that time of the year).
Before the first snow banks appeared, I heard that a singer/producer/rapper of the name of Diddy was coming out with a new album in a couple of days. Last Train to Paris was supposed to be released on December 14. I needed to put this album on my list for Santa. Luckily for me, the album was under the tree on Christmas morning. It was on repeat for the rest of the winter. My family must’ve been sick of hearing Coming Home or Yeah Yeah You Would.
It is strange how music as the ability to bring back good, as well as painful memories. It shapes us, and allow us to become the person we are destined to be.
Last Train To Paris was exactly what I needed at that moment. It was unlike anything I had heard before. A fresh new sound; just like Daft Punk was also able to innovate and create the melodies of the future.
The album from Diddy was complete, with everything a music fan could ask for. The best collaborative album I’ve heard to this day, alongside Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne project.
That’s how I discovered the renowned Diddy. I then went to listen to what he had produced in the past, including the album No Way Out (a rap classic).
All of that to say that after a long hiatus, Diddy’s finally back! We have been waiting for his music comeback for a while.
Also known as Puff Daddy, the 53-year-old artist from the Big Apple, released The Love Album: Off The Grid on September 15, his first solo album in 17 years.
Press Play was released in October 2006. Lots has happened since.
Diddy has matured since Press Play. Between now and then, Sean Combs delivered a lot of collaborative projects, including Last Train To Paris and MMM in 2015.
We are now in front of a man who isn’t afraid to show his affectionate side. He has done that in the past but not this way. This feels personal.
His sort of mid-life crisis (in a positive way) made him more intertwine with his emotions. Mark this date to your calendar. This album is for the history books.
Despite losing his best friend Notorious B.I.G. decades ago, Diddy never gave up on life. He used this unexpected life event to reach for the stars.
He must have been devastated, but he took that sadness and anger to create hits that define him as one, if not the best producer ever to set foot on earth.
Sean Combs came a long way to. He always admitted that earlier in life, his dream was to be a professional football player. The young man he was never imagined he could break into the music business. But he did.
And Diddy changed his plans early on. He decided to drop out of university in his second year, where he was studying business. Other than sports and football, Diddy was also passionate by everything that had to do with music. So from talent director, he became the producer, and rapper he is today.
I’m sure that along the way, people told him he wasn’t talented enough; that he didn’t have the voice to succeed in the business. Good for him, he proved everyone wrong. That’s the true definition of perseverance. It is a good moral for people who have given up, or are on the verge of giving up. Don’t ever let go of your dreams, even if they might seem unattainable.
Back to music now.
R&B music has been changing lately. It feels that it has lost its spark by moment. Sometimes, you can’t even tell the difference between R&B and Hip-Hop. Rap has immersed itself into the soul genre. It has sadly become more about sex, and less about true romance and relationships.
Soul always needs to go back to the core component of our lives: love. Some say the meaning of our existence is happiness. I say with no hesitation that it’s love. When you find it, you never want to let go of it. When you lose it, you feel like it’s the end of the world.
Diddy now has a mission. Music brought him a meaning. He wants us to go back to the whole days with this 23-track album that brings the best artists together. He couldn’t have chosen better collaborators to help him create this masterpiece, with among others The Weekend, John Legend, Mary J. Blige and H.E.R.
From the get-go, you can feel his mindset on the first track, Brought My Love. It has the je ne sais quoi to the song, with a fresh beat. The Love Album: Off The Grid is an amalgam of all of Diddy’s best ideas, all put into a 1 hour 24 minutes album. You start really appreciating the whole thing at the beginning of the fourth track. Stay Awhile, featuring Nija, makes you realize that this is not a regular album.
It must’ve taken a while to create this love story.
I’ve been listening to the album a few times already. I’ve come to the conclusion that Stay Part 1 is my favourite song. It is the closest to perfection.
It is raw, and makes you realize how important love is, despite how complicated it can get. Your future belongs to you. That’s what I also learned from the song #9 with Jozzy. It Belongs To You is a testimony of the power that we all have within us to accomplish what we want.
Boohoo is different to what we’ve gotten used to from Jeremih. It is a refreshing track that we can all appreciate. And what can I say about the second last song, Kim Porter, in honour of his late wife who died from pneumonia? Babyface never disappoints. And the teamwork with John Legend is something that we didn’t see coming. It ends up being magical.
Overall, if people want to learn about R&B music, they need to listen to this album from start to finish. This is also a lesson about patience. To create a great overall album, take your time, like everything in life. There’s no rush.
I was, and still am, really excited by Usher’s new album that is set- according to the artist- to come out by the end of the year. That should be one of the best albums of 2023 for sure.
But autumn is a significant season for R&B and rap. Other than Diddy, Drake is supposed (let’s hope it is true this time) to release For All The Dogs on October 6.
I really hope the Love Album: Off The Grid can help Diddy relaunch his career. He is still young, and has so much more to give.
Puff Daddy has been under the radar for a long time in the industry.
It is about time that he got the respect he deserves. The multi-talented artist has come a long way from whom he was when he released I’ll Be Missing You in 1997, in honour of his late friend.
With this new project, the singer has said that he wants to launch the love era. And that we are all invited in this new universe, where everyone is accepted, and where we stop judging others. Diddy wants to launch a movement. A movement that is all about positivity and helping one and another; where no one is left behind feeling lonely.
It goes without saying that Sean Combs has influenced so many artists over the years.
That’s partly why he received a global icon award at the MTV Video Music Awards a few days ago. I recommend you listen to the accepting speech he gave that evening. It is inspirational. And it shows you the sincerity behind his approach. If there is one thing you need to remember it’s that love wins, love always wins.
He is an icon, someone people look up to, not only as an entrepreneur, but also as a rapper and producer.
Let this new album be a remedy to your insecurities. If you feel lonely, listen to the 23 songs in a chronological order and know that you’ve got people around you who love you so much and would give the world for you.
Like I would take a bullet for my family if I needed to. That’s how much they mean to me.
I’ve got your back, and remember to never stop opening your heart to love.
Love is the greatest gift that was given to us. Let’s cherish it until the end of time.