Diddy Brings Dirty Money and Bad Boy Classics to Toronto
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Diddy Brings Dirty Money and Bad Boy Classics to Toronto

Diddy (as one-third of Diddy – Dirty Money) performs at the Kool Haus on the Coming Home Tour.

Puff Daddy. P. Diddy. Sean Combs. Rappers have a tendency to express their creative evolutions through name changes (Shyne to Moses Levi, anyone?). And Diddy’s transformation from guttural, mumbling producer in the background of Notorious B.I.G.’s videos to the frontman of his own sound is one of the best examples. But it also raises the question: Which Diddy will you get in concert?

As he rolled into Toronto last night, concertgoers seemed to have as many reasons to attend as Diddy has aliases. Biz Topshotta was one of the first people in, pressed against the barricade with a Heineken in each hand. When asked why he wanted to see Diddy, his answer was simple: “I want to know if he can bring the party.” Diddy certainly promised that in the Coming Home Tour promo video for Toronto, but Mae, another early arrival, had a different reason: “I’m here ‘cause I’m 52 and can say I’m out seeing Diddy on a Sunday night, not watching Murder She Wrote.” Some fans admitted they wanted to hear classic Diddy (or rather Puff), while others, like Osman, said, “He’s like a mentor. I listen to everything.”

Tyga revved up the crowd, opening for Diddy – Dirty Money.

Hyping up the crowd was a new addition to the Young Money label, Tyga, whose stage presence needed no backup LED light show. From the moment he stomped out in his bedazzled Chucks, the crowd lit up with their iPhones in the air. Performing his collaborative singles (“Bedrock,” “Roger That,” “I’m So Raw”) and his own songs (“Lapdance,” “Far Away”), as well as Weezy covers, he nearly had his tight tee ripped off by fans as he walked along the barricade. He eventually just took it off, exiting the stage (fittingly) to Lil Wayne’s “Every Girl.”

Fans get their smartphones up.

Diddy’s fifth album, Last Train to Paris, is all about alter egos (as he raps on the single “I’m Coming Home”: “It’s easy to be Puff, it’s harder to be Sean”), but Diddy also emphasizes that Diddy – Dirty Money is a collaborative trio, equal parts himself and singer/songwriters Dawn Richard (MTV’s Making the Band’s Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper (best known as a songwriter for the likes of J.Lo, Timbaland, and Jill Scott). And their act certainly backs this up: Dawn and Kalenna opened, as Diddy stood back until he plunged into a rendition of “O Let’s Do It.” DDM are a cohesive unit on stage, channelling a Matrix-meets-Motown aesthetic as they played off each other, dancing, singing, and creating an upbeat party vibe (Diddy even played the tambourine). The Euro-electro influences of the album were certainly apparent as the performance had more lasers than a Berlin nightclub (suddenly making the odd choice of the Kool Haus as a venue seem entirely logical).

Dawn Richards, one third of Diddy – Dirty Money, strikes a pose.

Last Train undoubtedly has a different feel from Diddy’s previous albums, and after running through most of it, ever the businessman, Diddy recognized why many people bought tickets. Turning to the packed house, he declared, “We’ll give you the classics you came for.” A roar of applause ensued.
Breaking up the show into two entirely different feels was a video montage of just how superb Diddy is as a rapper/producer/mogul/specimen-of-a-human-being that then evolved into a sombre tribute to Biggie. When Diddy reappeared (this time with fewer lasers), the crowd was in the right mindset for the Bad Boy–classics mash-up that followed. Starting with “I Need a Girl” and moving into “Hello Good Morning” (arguably the most “Puff”-sounding track on the new album), he then started to build a crescendo of classics (“I Get Money,” “It’s All About the Benjamins”), reaching a fever pitch with “We Won’t Stop” when a girl rushed the barricades, attempting to climb over in a micro-mini and stilettos. He continued on with “Bad Boy for Life” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” which by then had everyone, from the hipsters to the gangsters and the scenesters, dancing.
Besides the fight near the end of the show that left a weave strewn on the ground like roadkill (and instantly became Facebook profile picture material for the teen boys who crowded around it snapping pictures like scientists examining a newly discovered species), everyone seemed to be feeling “the vibe,” as Diddy put it. Staying onstage for much longer than expected, Diddy certainly gave Toronto what it wanted. And though what it wanted was undeniably the classics, he didn’t hold it against us.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.