Sean John Combs (born November 4, 1969), also known by his stage names Diddy and P. Diddy, is an American rapper, singer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur. He has won three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards, and his clothing line earned a Council of Fashion Designers of America award. He was originally known as Puff Daddy and then as P. Diddy (Puff and Puffy being often used as a nickname, but never as recording names). In August 2005, he changed his stage name to simply "Diddy", but continues to use the name P. Diddy in the UK as the result of a lawsuit. He formed and recorded with the group "Diddy - Dirty Money".
Combs was born in Harlem and grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. He worked as a talent director at Uptown Records and then founded Bad Boy Records in 1993. His business interests under the umbrella of Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide include Bad Boy Records; the clothing lines Sean John & Sean by Sean Combs; a movie production company; and two restaurants. He has taken the roles of recording executive, performer, producer of MTV's Making the Band, writer, arranger, clothing designer, and Broadway actor. In 2011, Forbes estimated his net worth at $500 million, making him the richest figure in hip hop.
Sean Combs was born in a public housing project in Harlem, New York City, the son of Janice, a model and teacher, and Melvin Earl Combs. He grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. When Combs was a child, his father, aged 33, an associate of Frank Lucas (the New York drug lord), was shot to death in his car at a Manhattan park after attending a party. Lucas and rival gangster Nicky Barnes both publicly state that they were close to Melvin.
Combs played football at the Roman Catholic Mount Saint Michael Academy. In 1986, his team won a division title; he graduated in 1987.
Combs said that he was given the nickname "Puff" as a child because he would "huff and puff" when he was angry, and "Daddy" was another version of "playa".
Combs attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he showed a penchant for marketing and gained a reputation as a party promoter. He eventually became an intern at New York's Uptown Records. For some time he would travel back and forth between Washington and New York, juggling his classes and his internship, before eventually dropping out of Howard when he became a talent director at Uptown. He was instrumental in developing Jodeci and signing and producing Mary J. Blige.
In 1991, Combs promoted a concert, headlined by Heavy D and held at the City College of New York (CCNY) gymnasium, following an AIDS charity basketball game. The event was overcrowded since it was oversold to almost twice capacity, while thousands without tickets were outside. To keep them out Combs' people shut the only door to a stairwell and put a table behind it, though the crowd jammed inside was pounding on the door and pleading for help. When the crowd outside broke several glass doors in an attempt to get in a stampede ensued inside the gymnasium in which nine people died. In a 1999 ruling, with respect to civil liability, a New York Court of Claims judge found Combs and Heavy D. fifty percent responsible. CCNY bore the rest of the responsibility in part for abdicating security responsibilities to Combs though they knew the event was oversold.
In 1993, after being fired from Uptown, Combs established Bad Boy Records, taking then-newcomer The Notorious B.I.G. with him. Both The Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack quickly released hit singles, followed by similarly successful LPs, particularly The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die. Combs began signing more acts to Bad Boy, including Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, Father MC, 112 and Total, as well as producing for Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil' Kim, TLC, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, SWV, Aretha Franklin, and others, and forming The Hitmen, an in-house production team. Mase and D-Block (then known as "The L.O.X.") joined Bad Boy just as a widely publicized rivalry with the West Coast's Death Row Records was beginning. Combs and The Notorious B.I.G. were criticized and parodied by Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight in songs and interviews during the mid-1990s. During 1994-1995, he also helped produce songs for TLC's CrazySexyCool, which was the decade's best-selling R&B album. Songs he helped produced include "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and "Can I Get A Witness".
edit 1997-1998: "Puff Daddy" and No Way Out:
In 1997, Combs recorded his first commercial vocal as a rapper under the name "Puff Daddy." His debut single, "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. His debut album, No Way Out was released on July 1, 1997 through Bad Boy Records. Originally titled Hell Up In Harlem, the album underwent several changes after The Notorious B.I.G.'s killing on March 9, 1997. The album's guest appearances were largely made up of the label's artists. No Way Out was a significant success, particularly in the United States where it reached number one on the Billboard 200 in its first week of release, selling 561,000 copies. The album produced five successful singles, including "I'll Be Missing You", a tribute song aimed at The Notorious B.I.G., which became the first rap song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained at the top of the chart for eleven consecutive weeks, whilst topping several other charts worldwide. The other four singles, the Billboard hits "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down", "It's All About the Benjamins", "Been Around the World" and "Victory", were also successful, and all except the latter peaked in the top two positions of the Billboard Hot 100. He collaborated with Jimmy Page on the song "Come with Me" for the Godzilla film, an EPIC/Sony Soundtrax production. The track, approved by Page, sampled the Led Zeppelin song "Kashmir". Producer Tom Morello supplied live guitar parts, playing bass on the song. Combs and Page filmed a video for "Come with Me", which reached #2 in the UK.
The album earned Combs five nominations at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998, winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. On September 7, 2000, the album was certified septuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of 7,000,000+ copies.
In 1997, Combs was sued for landlord neglect by Inge Bongo. Combs denied the charges. By the late 1990s, he was receiving criticism for watering down and overly commercializing hip-hop and overusing guest appearances by other artists, samples and interpolations of past hits in his own hit songs.
1999-2000: Club New York and Forever:
In December 1999, Combs was accused of assaulting Steve Stoute of Interscope Records. Stoute was the manager for Nas. Combs had filmed a video scene earlier that year for "Hate Me Now" that featured Nas being crucified but demanded that the images be removed. Stoute's refusal led to an argument and Puff Daddy's arrest for aggravated assault. This was followed by yet more negative publicity as The Lox left Bad Boy Records and a recording session with Lil' Kim and Lil' Cease, both of The Notorious B.I.G.'s Junior M.A.F.I.A. posse, was interrupted by gunfire.
On December 27, 1999, Combs and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were at Club New York, a midtown Manhattan nightclub, when gunfire broke out. After a police investigation, Combs and fellow rapper Shyne were arrested for weapons violations and other charges. The New York County District Attorney's Office, led by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, indicted Combs after his driver, Wardel Fenderson, claimed that Combs had tried to bribe him into taking the weapon after the shooting.
With a gag order in place, the highly publicized trial began. His attorneys were Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. and Benjamin Brafman. After the trial was over, Combs was found not guilty on all charges; Shyne was convicted on the same charges and sentenced to ten years in prison. Combs and Lopez split shortly after. A lawsuit filed by Combs's driver, Fenderson, who said he suffered emotional damage after the club shooting, was settled in February 2004. Lawyers for both sides, having agreed to keep the settlement terms secret, would say only that the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
Forever was the debut solo studio album released on 24 August 1999 in North America by Bad Boy Entertainment, with a release in the UK the following day. Forever, at the time of its release, has received generally favorable to mixed reviews from most music critics, directed at the heavy use of sampling in Combs' work, as well as commercially changing hip-hop music simultaneously, which caused controversy at the time. Despite the mixed reviews, Forever debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and entered at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for one week, before being knocked off the top spot by Mary J. Blige's fourth album, Mary, which topped the R&B albums chart for two weeks. To date, the album has received positive to mixed reviews from music critics, and has spawned three singles that have attained Billboard chart success. The album debuted on the US Billboard 200 chart at number two, selling an estimated 205,000 copies in its first week sales, while topping the R&B Albums chart at number one. In the UK, the album peaked at number nine on the UK Albums Chart. In Canada, the album opened at number four on the Canadian Albums Chart, becoming Combs' highest charting album. To date, the album has sold 1.4 million copies worldwide.
edit 2001-2004: "P. Diddy" and The Saga Continues:
In 2001, after his acquittal on gun possession and bribery charges, Combs changed his stage name from "Puff Daddy" to "P. Diddy". He later appeared as a drug dealer in the film Made and starred with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton in Monster's Ball. He tried to reinvent his image, working on a gospel album, Thank You, but soon faced assault charges by a Michigan television host, Dr. Roger Mills, also known as Rogelio Mills, and then was arrested for driving on a suspended license in Florida. Combs began working with a series of unusual (for him) artists. For a short period of time, he was the manager of Kelis; they have a collaboration titled "Let's Get Ill". A collaboration with David Bowie appeared on the soundtrack to Training Day and he also worked with Britney Spears and 'N Sync. He signed California-based pop girl group Dream to his record label. He was also an opening act for 'N Sync on their Spring 2002 Celebrity Tour.
The Saga Continues... was released by American on July 10, 2001 in North America. The album was eventually certified Platinum. It is the only studio album under the P. Diddy name, and last studio album under Bad Boy Entertainment's joint venture with Arista Records (his We Invented The Remix album was the last overall album with Arista). The Saga Continues is considered by most fans to be the best album to date since the release of No Way Out. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and topping the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. This is the first album by Sean Combs not to feature any guest appearances by Jay-Z or Lil Kim.
Later in 2002, he made his own reality show on MTV called Making the Band 2, a sequel to the first Making the Band, in which contestants competed to be in a new group on Bad Boy Records. Six finalists were to come up with their name, CD and video (see Da Band). The group, maligned by comics and critics and drawing a skit on Chappelle's Show, was dissolved by Combs at the end of the series.
In 2003, Combs ran in the New York City Marathon and raised $2,000,000 for the educational system for the children of New York. On March 10, 2004, he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the marathon, which he finished in four hours and eighteen minutes. In 2004, Combs headed the campaign "Vote or Die" for the 2004 Presidential Election. The "Vote or Die" slogan was mocked by both The Daily Show and South Park as being too simplistic and encouraging young people to vote without knowing the issues. In a South Park episode entitled "Douche and Turd", Combs and his friends were depicted chasing Stan Marsh, one of the show's main characters, around with weapons, literally threatening to kill him if he wouldn't vote in his school election.
edit 2005-2009: "Diddy" and Press Play:
On August 16, 2005, Combs appeared on Today and he announced that he was altering his stage name yet again, dropping the "P." and calling himself simply as "Diddy," saying that "the P was getting between me and my fans". However, London-based musical artist and DJRichard Dearlove had been performing under the "Diddy" name since 1992 - i.e. nine years before Combs started using even "P. Diddy" - so in November 2005 sought an injunction in the High Court of Justice, London, but accepted an out-of-court settlement of £10,000 in damages, and more than £100,000 in costs. As a result, Combs no longer uses the name Diddy in the UK, where he is still known as P. Diddy.
Combs starred in the 2005 Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, played Walter Lee Younger in the critically acclaimed 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun and the television adaptation which was aired in February 2008. In the same year Combs sold his record company to the Warner Music Group. Tensions still existed between him and former Warner CEOs Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles (both formerly of Def Jam) but they arranged for his imprint to be a part of the company. In an interview with AndPOP Combs said that he was developing a line of men's suits. He later hosted the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2005 by Time magazine. He even earned a mention in the world of country music: The narrator of "Play Something Country" by Brooks & Dunn and Sean Okundaye says he "didn't come to hear P. Diddy", which he rhymes with "something bumpin' from the city."
In 2006, after trying to move Mase away from Bad Boy Records, 50 Cent recorded a diss song, "Hip-Hop," in which he implied that Combs knew about The Notorious B.I.G.'s murder. The feud was resolved, with both rappers appearing on MTV's TRL and Sucker Free, respectively, stating that there were no longer problems.
Combs released his first album in 4 years, Press Play, on October 17, 2006 on the Bad Boy Records label with guest appearances from Christina Aguilera, Keyshia Cole, Mario Winans (signed to his label 'Bad Boy Records'), Nas, Will.i.am (of The Black Eyed Peas), Mary J. Blige, Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls), Jamie Foxx, Fergie, Big Boi (of Outkast), Ciara, Twista, Just Blaze, Pharrell, Brandy. The album debuted at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with sales of over 173,009. In the UK, the album debuted at number 11. Its singles "Come to Me" and "Last Night" both reached the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The album became available to preview on MTV's The Leak on October 10, 2006, one week before being sold in stores.Press Play received generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics. As of November 21, 2008, the album has sold 700,000 copies in the United States.
In October 2007, he was sued by hip-hop promoter James Waldon for allegedly unleashing three violent bodyguards on him in a New York nightclub. In March 2008, a source for the Los Angeles Times claimed that The Notorious B.I.G. and Combs orchestrated the '94 robbery and assassination attempt on Tupac, substantiating the claim with supposed FBI documents to that effect; the newspaper later retracted the story, acknowledging that the supporting FBI documents had been fabricated.
In June 2008, Combs' representative denied rumors of another name change. August 2008 saw Combs venture into reality television with the premiere of his VH1 series I Want to Work for Diddy. After the second season finale of Making the Band 4, Combs confirmed that he would be heading back into the studio to record his next album. Combs has stated that he would like to work with Leona Lewis on his new album. In an interview with The Daily Mail he said: "I had Christina Aguilera on my last album, but its all about Leona Lewis on my next." Under his real name of Sean Combs, he starred in two episodes of Season 7 of CSI: Miami; 'Presumed Guilty' and 'Sink or Swim' in the role of the lawyer Derek Powell.
2010-present: The Dream Team and Diddy Dirty Money:
He has created a rap supergroup known as "The Dream Team". The group consists of Diddy, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes and Red Café.Fabolous is also rumored to be in the group. Since 2009 he has recorded and performed as part of the group Diddy - Dirty Money. In June 2010, Diddy played a role (as Sean Combs) in the comedy film Get Him to the Greek, as Sergio Roma, a record company executive. An Entourage-series representative announced that Diddy would guest star on an episode of the upcoming season.
He released Last Train to Paris on December 13, 2010. During its opening week Last Train to Paris outperformed expectations, debuting eight places higher than predicted at number seven on the Billboard 200. The album follows Diddy's alter-ego as he travels from London to Paris to regain a lost love. It also introduced Diddy's R&B/Hip-Hop collective, Dirty Money, a group consisting of Dawn Richards (formerly of Danity Kane) and singer-songwriter Kalenna Harper. Dirty Money performed on the album alongside a total of sixteen guest vocals which include appearances from Grace Jones and Lil Wayne, amongst others. To reflect the concept of the album, Last Train to Paris features vocal segues from designers and editors of the fashion world including Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Tommy Hilfiger. The release was preceded by four singles "Angels", "Hello Good Morning", "Loving You No More" and "Coming Home" which received mixed success on the Billboard Hot 100. The latter has become the most successful, peaking at number twelve on the U.S. Hot 100 and top-five or top-ten in much of Europe. On March 10, 2011 Diddy-Dirty Money performed the single "Coming Home" live on American Idol.
On April 18, 2011, Diddy appeared in the 21st episode of season one of Hawaii Five-0 as an undercover NYPD detective.
In 2002, he was featured on Fortune Magazine's "40 under 40" and was placed number one in the list of the top ten richest people in hip-hop. In 2011 his estimated worth was US $500 million, making him the richest person in the hip hop entertainment business.
In 1998, Combs started a clothing line, Sean John. It was nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2000, and won in 2004.
The clothing line was subject to controversy in 2003 when it was discovered that factories producing the clothing in Honduras were violating Honduran labor law. Among the accusations put forth were that workers were subjected to body searches and paid sweatshop wages.Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee, who first exposed the factory, is quoted in the New York Times as saying, "Sean Puff Daddy obviously has a lot of clout, he can literally do a lot overnight to help these workers."
Combs responded that there would be a "zero tolerance" investigation at his company, Sean John. He stated to a group of reporters "I'm as pro-worker as they get." On February 14, 2004, Kernaghann announced on Pacifia station that Combs had made some "unprecedented" changes at factories including adding air conditioning and water purification systems, and allowing a union to form.
In late 2006, MSNBC reported, "Macy's has pulled from its shelves and its Web site two styles of Sean John hooded jackets, originally advertised as featuring faux fur, after an investigation by the nation's largest animal protection organization concluded that the garments were actually made from an animal called a 'raccoon dog'". Combs said he had been unaware of the material, but as soon as he knew about it, he had his clothing line stop using the material. In 2008 he appeared in a Macy's commercial.
In November 2008, Combs launched his latest men's perfume under the Sean John brand called "I Am King" dedicated to Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King. In November 2008, he unveiled a new Times Square billboard for the "I Am King" line to replace his iconic Sean John ad. The giant billboard is currently the largest static ad in Times Square. Model Bar Refaeli was chosen to be the face of the fragrance.
In addition to his clothing line, Combs owns an upscale restaurant chain called Justin's, named after his son. The current restaurant is in Atlanta; the original New York location closed in September 2007. He is the designer of the green Dallas Mavericks alternate jersey.
On September 18, 2007, Combs teamed up with 50 Cent and Jay-Z for the "Forbes I Get Money Billion Dollar Remix." He also made appearances with Jay-Z on his American Gangster concert tour in 2007.
As of October 2007, Combs has inked a multi-year deal, in which he'll help develop the Ciroc brand, one of Diageo PLC's super-premium Vodka lines, for a share in the profits. The agreement is the latest in which a celebrity is going beyond the typical role of endorser to share in a brand's rise and fall. Diageo said the agreement could be worth more than $100 million for Combs and his company, Sean Combs Enterprises, over the course of the deal, depending on how well the brand performs. Since then, he has launched multiple ventures for Ciroc, many of which were featured during the 2008 presidential election.
Combs acquired the Enyce clothing line from Liz Claiborne for $20 million on October 21, 2008.
After a prolific Twitter campaign by comedian Chris Gethard, Combs is set to make an appearance at the comedian's live show in January 2010 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City. In February 2010, Combs announced on CNN to Wolf Blitzer, that he plans to open a business school in New York. He announced that he wanted a school, "that's known for building leaders."
Combs is the biological father of five children and the informal stepfather of another child:
His on-again, off-again girlfriend Kimberly Porter has a son, Quincy Jones Brown (born December 1991) with 1980s New Jack Swing romantic singer/producer Al B Sure. Quincy was featured on My Super Sweet 16.
Combs' first biological child is Justin Dior Combs (born December 1993), from a relationship with his high school sweetheart, designer Misa Hylton-Brim. In January 2010, it was widely reported that Combs presented his son Justin with a $360,000 Maybach car (and chauffeur) as a 16th birthday present. Justin was also featured on My Super Sweet 16.
His second child is son Christian Casey Combs (born April 1998) with Kim Porter. Porter is also the mother of Combs' twin daughters, D'Lila Star Combs and Jessie James Combs (born December 2006). In July 2007 Combs and Porter ended their relationship.
In October 2007, Combs took legal responsibility for Chance, his daughter with Sarah Chapman.
Combs owns a home in Alpine, New Jersey that he purchased for a reported $7 million.
Charity work and honors:
On October 13, 2006, the mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, gave Combs the key to the city and a pair of cufflinks to commemorate the inauguration of an annual October 13 "Diddy Day". He received the honor as a reward for certain charitable work at Chicago's City Hall.
In 2008 Combs was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the fall of 2011, Combs presented his hometown Boys and Girls Club with a considerable contribution that helped to save the dying organization. It was said that the timing of the contribution was received at the perfect moment, seeing that the Club's budget for operations has been pressed because of changes to federal, state and private funding.
In the February 2007 issue of Blender magazine, Combs spoke about his wardrobe. He describes his style in three words: "Swagger. Timeless. Diverse." On September 2, 2007, Combs held his ninth annual "White Party" in which all guests are limited to an all white dress code. The White Party, which has also been held in St. Tropez, was held in his Long Island home in East Hampton. It featured a white carpet to go along with the white dress code. Combs stated, "This party is up there with the top three that I've thrown, It's a party that has legendary status. It's hard to throw a party that lives up to its legend."