Damn you Diddy. Just when I was ready to quit your ass. Just when I had my bags packed and had called the cab, you coaxed me into pulling up a chair and staying a while. You made me a some Ciroc and lemonade and promised me this time it was going to be different. The Making of the Band franchise had changed. It was now Making His Band. The music was going to be the thing, not just pretty faces and fancy dance steps. You were putting it all on the line to please me.
Okay, I said. I can’t resist no matter how hard I try. I was with you from the beginning. So why after all these years would I leave you now? And then I watched the premiere of the newest installment of Diddy TV, MTV’s Making His Band, when it premiered on Monday, July 27 at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.
(UPDATE: Due to I don’t know what (I can kind of guess but I won’t say here), MHB has been taken off the schedule and will return on a new day and time, Saturday, September 12 at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific)
And to my pleasant surprise, it was great, inspirational even. Here’s how it went: Casting/musical directors held open auditions in various cities including Chicago and New York in search of the finest musicians and singers that this country has to offer. The best of the best will become members of Diddy’s band when he performs live, songs from his upcoming CD Last Train to Paris, in venues throughout the world.
Diddy has set the bar exceptionally for himself and others. He wants Last Train be a “concept” album — like nothing we have heard before…or at the very least, are currently hearing. But it’s tricky, he tells Andre Harrell, his friend and mentor — he doesn’t want to make an “album before its time” but he’s “not willing to dumb it down for radio.” Diddy acknowledges that Last Train “is not going to be for everybody.”
He also promises that we will see a different side of him as well — a more vulnerable side, the man behind the names, Sean himself — as he struggles with his own demons, his own insecurities. In the premiere, he asks himself if he really has what it takes. Does he really have something to offer people or is he just doing it because he can?
In putting together this band, Diddy says he is drawing to himself people with the same type of passion, people who are pursuing the same dream and giving them the opportunity to see the world as they entertain thousands.
Unlike in seasons past, Making His Band “contestants” will be residing in a house in LA. (Sorry, no Junior’s cheesecake runs or treks across the Brooklyn Bridge) There are so many extraordinarily talented people to choose from, you just don’t know how it’s going to be done. What will be criteria for elimination? The criteria for inclusion?
But even among the great talent, there are a few standouts:
Lee (violin) – He’s the only dude on this instrument. Lee can easily move from classical to hip hop. There was no call for violinists but dude was so damn good, they made a spot for him. That’s what I’m talking about. Let your talent be so strong that they have to make room for you.
Kristopher Brooks (drums) – Big man hits hard and brought the fire when auditioning in front of Diddy. It shocked even the casting directors. (UPDATE: Big Kris got the boot during the first elimination because he couldn’t perform the musical exercises. It seemed as if he, who is has no musical training, didn’t even make a valid attempt to learn them. Too disappointed. Definitely a teachable moment for the rest of us.)
Joy (drums) – Do not be deceived, just because sistah is petite, doesn’t mean she can’t bang it out. She’s bound to give Big Man a real run for his money. (UPDATE: Joy was eliminated after the second challenge. Why? Not enough confidence.)
Alex and Blake (guitars) – Great solo riffs. Only problem is that I am barely able to tell them apart physically or musically. They will have to find a way of distinguishing themselves from one another as well as the rest of the pack.
Brockett (keyboards) – Another one who can make the transition from classical to contemporary. One of the few whose story was told during the premiere.. Brockett revealed that he had to play for his father’s funeral — one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. (Update: Made Diddy’s Band)
Meghan (vocals) – Love my girl’s jazz-infused voice. That’s it. She’s stealth. She’s a star. I’m a fan. (Update: Made Diddy’s Band)
Jaila (vocals) – Oh, hell yeah! What is it you want her to sing? How high? How low? She can go there…And I’m going to go there and tell you something about Miss Simms who hails from Chicago…She’s a pre-op transvestite who began making her transition three years ago (source). Outspoken and sassy with enough confidence for all of us, Jaila is standout in every way imaginable. A fan favorite already in the making. I can’t see Diddy denying her the opportunity to shine as a member of the band. (Update: Made Diddy’s Band)
Now listen. I can’t stress this enough, please watch. I know Diddy gets on your nerves. He gets on mine too sometimes. I know it’s going to seem at times like an endless promo for Last Train to Paris. Please ignore. Pay attention to the music, the passion of these hard-working musicians. Give them their day in the sun, that they, for their efforts, rightly deserve. So often we see people who gain notoriety for reasons that leave us scratching our heads. Let’s honor those who have chosen to take the path of most resistance — who take the hard, high road, who do it the right way.
For those of you who missed the premiere here’s the trailer
Here’s Diddy working with his vocal coach
And Diddy…well…just being Diddy