Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
November 4, 1969
Currently Known For:
Rapper, Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Entrepreneur, Record Producer, and Record Executive
No Way Out, Forever, The Saga Continues? Press Play, and Last Train to Paris; Producer of Making the Band; stage names Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Love and Brother Love
Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Love, or Brother Love… whatever you know him as, it’s undeniable that Sean Combs is one of the most successful American rappers, performers, and record producers in the business. He got his start in the music industry as a talent director with Uptown Records before opening his first record label—Bad Boy Entertainment—in 1993. Things skyrocketed from there as Diddy released his debut album four years later and watched in awe as No Way Out was certified platinum seven times. Since then, he’s released a handful of successful albums including Forever, The Saga Continues…, Press Play, and Last Train to Paris while taking home numerous accolades including three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards.
Big Apple Beginnings: The Road to Bad Boy Entertainment
“If you dream and you believe, you can do it.” Long before he adopted his many stage names, Sean John Combs made his debut into the world on November 4, 1969 in New York City, New York where his father, Melvin Earl Combs, served in the United States Air Force before becoming associated with infamous drug dealer Frank Lucas. Because of this association, Diddy was only two years old when his 33-year-old father was shot to death while sitting on the hood of his car on Central Park West.
Raised by his mother, Diddy spent much of his childhood in Mount Vernon, New York where his friends quickly nicknamed him “Puff” because of how he huffed and puffed when he got angry. The nickname followed him to Mount Saint Michael Academy where he played football and led the team to the 1986 division title. After high school, he enrolled at Howard University and majored in business but spent more of his time throwing exciting parties with over 1,000 classmates in attendance. Quickly realizing that he enjoyed partying far more than the actual academics of college, Diddy dropped out after his sophomore year and took a job as an intern at a young record label in the Big Apple known as Uptown Records.
Eventually promoted to Talent Director, Diddy developed new artists like Mary J. Blige and Jodeci before he was assigned to collaborate with Heavy D on an AIDS fundraiser at the City College of New York in 1991. Once again in the role of “party planner,” Diddy mistakenly oversold the event causing tragedy to strike when a stampede during the fundraiser left nine people dead. Fired from Uptown Records, Diddy took his career in his own hands and launched his first record label—Bad Boy Entertainment—with Arista Records. Signing The Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack as his first artists, Bad Boy Entertainment became an instant success thanks to B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. This made Diddy a legitimate name in the business as he signed acts like Bad Boy, Father MC, Carl Thomas, and Faith Evans while collaborating with Blige, Usher, Lil’ Kim, TLC, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and many others.
“I wasn’t bitter,” Diddy recalled of being fired by Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell. “I knew it was a life lesson that I needed to learn. I was scared if anything, because losing your job is scary, but I was able to bounce back and get on my feet and get the deal with Arista… Andre fired me and made me rich. So, I didn’t have nothing to be mad about. He’s only been a great mentor to me and somebody that I’ll always love and be indebted to.”
Taking the Stage
Amid his growing success with Bad Boy Entertainment, Diddy was inspired to try his hand at recording and released his first single, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” in 1997 under the stage name, “Puff Daddy.” With the single spending 28 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and even climbing to the top for a few weeks, Diddy released his debut album, No Way Out, months later following the death of his longtime friend, The Notorious B.I.G., whom he honored with the single “I’ll Be Missing You.” That single and others like “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “It’s All About the Benjamins,” and “Victory” made the album a huge success as it ranked at the top of the Billboard Top 200 and sold over 561,000 copies in its first week. The good news didn’t stop there as Diddy earned five Grammy Award nominations and one win for Best Rap Album in 1998!
Following the initial success of No Way Out, Diddy responded to widespread criticism for commercializing hip hop as well as a few bouts of negative publicity after a physical assault charge in April 1999 with the release of his debut studio album, Forever, in 1999. The album was met with mixed reviews as fans focused more on Diddy’s relationship with his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. Why? Shortly after the album’s release, another media frenzy broke out when he and Lopez were at Club New York when gunfire broke out and resulted in Combs being arrested and charged with weapons violations. In the trial that followed, Combs was found not guilty on all charges but the damage to his relationship was already done as he and Lopez broke up shortly after.
In desperate need to reinvent himself, Diddy changed his name to “P. Diddy” and released his gospel album, Thank You, in 2001 before making his acting debut as a drug dealer in Made and then joining Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball. He released his next album, The Saga Continues…, and then broke ties with Arista Records to gain full control of Bad Boy Entertainment. By then, he was already looking for his next venture when he stepped in as executive producer of MTV’s Making the Band, which lasted from 2002 to 2009 and gave bands like Da Band, Danity Kane, and Donnie Klang their start in the music business.
Continuing to change his stage name every few years, Diddy took a brief hiatus from recording before returning to the studio in 2006 for the release of Press Play, which received mixed reviews from critics despite being a commercial success. Two years later, he joined the reality television circuit with the premiere of the VH1 series I Want to Work For Diddy and launched into 2010 with a rap supergroup known as the Dream Team featuring Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled, Red Café, and Fabolous. Although the group failed to get things off the group, Diddy pushed forward with the release of his next album, Last Train to Paris.
Life Today: New Music and Family
With Last Train to Paris marking Diddy’s last studio album, the 48-year-old rapper has had enough to keep him busy with plenty of business ventures and collaborations with artists like French Montana and Rick Ross. In 2016, Combs launched a tour featuring Bad Boy Records’ biggest artists to celebrate the label’s 20th anniversary and shared a sneak peek at life behind the scenes in the 2017 documentary, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story.
Now identifying as “Love” and “Brother Love,” Diddy has hinted at another album—No Way Out 2—in the works but has a few other projects stealing his focus like his Sean John clothing line in addition to his purchase of Encye clothing from Liz Claiborne, Revolt TV, and Aquahydrate, the latter of which he owns with actor Mark Wahlberg and Ronald Burkle. Most recently, he’s hinted at plans to purchase the NFL’s Carolina Panthers saying, “The process is just started… It was never about me buying the Panthers; it was always about we. It was always about we need a team… I put together an investment group and it’s just going through the process.”
Apart from buying the Panthers, Diddy is also a part of Fox’s newest talent competition series, The Four, alongside fellow judges DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, and Charlie Walk with Fergie as the host. “When Fox called me when we were negotiating the deal, I said there’s just one thing I have to have, which is DJ Khaled,” Diddy said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “I really wanted to come and build a super team, and I wanted to come in and disrupt what was going on with the vocal competition shows.” The Four: Battle for Stardom certainly promises to do that with its second season premiering in June 2018.
Outside of his many business ventures and incredible fame as the second richest hip-hop artist in the industry, Diddy identifies first as a father and second as an artist. Never married, Diddy is the father of six children, the first of whom—Justin—he welcomed in 1993 with his high school sweetheart. In the years since, he’s added to his family with the births of son Christian (1998), daughter Chance (2005) and twin daughters D’Lila Star and Jessie James (2006). “I got three girls, three boys, and they’re really kind, great people,” Diddy says of his children. “They got a lot of love in their heart. I’m the luckiest man in the world.”