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P. Diddy
Multi-faceted music mogul Sean Combs ~ now known as P. Diddy ~ returns with a brand new album featuring guest appearances by some of the biggest names in music. He may have changed his name – again - but he’s still got his finger firmly on the urban pulse. As his new release gets set to hit stores, we trace Diddy’s journey from a small suburb of New York to the top of a global empire.

1. Born Sean Jean Combs in New York

P. Diddy was born Sean John Combs on November 4, 1969 in a modest household in Harlem, New York. He earned the nickname ‘Puffy’ at school where, as a member of the football team, he would puff out his chest to make his body seem bigger. He began a career in music fairly early on and has since become one of the wealthiest men in the entertainment industry.

2. Suffers a setback early on in life
When he was just two years old, his father Melvin was killed as he made his way home late one night in Manhattan. Life must have been difficult for Combs, but he pursued his goals and completed his education at a Washington, DC, university before becoming an intern at Uptown Records. This was his start in the music business and he climbed up the ladder and got his first taste of success as a label executive.

3. First steps in the music world
In 1994 Combs founded Bad Boy Records, a label that has since gone on to become one of the premiere hip-hop and rap music labels in the world. The company was set in motion with the signing of just two artists, Craig Mack and Combs’s friend and musical collaborator Notorious B.I.G. The label’s big break came with the release of Notorious B.I.G.'s debut album Ready To Die, a smash hit that quickly went multi-platinum. Combs clearly had a ear for recognising talent and he soon began signing more acts to Bad Boy, including Usher, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Jodeci and Total, as well as producing songs for artists like Li’l Kim, TLC, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and Aretha Franklin.

4. Rap battles get deadly
Things were falling into place professionally, but the business was a dangerous one, and soon a widely publicized rivalry with the West Coast's Death Row Records was heating up. Combs and Notorious B.I.G. were pitted against rappers Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight in a war of words that raged on for months. In 1996 things took a tragic turn ~ Tupac Shakur was murdered, and just six months later Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie as he was called, was also killed. This happened just weeks before the release of Biggie’s album Life After Death. Combs was devastated by the death of his dear friend and he was all set to leave the business. However friends and colleagues helped him through the difficult phase and convinced him to continue making music.

5. Has a worldwide smash hit with tribute to Biggie
P. Diddy first became known in India with his 1997 Notorious B.I.G tribute hit I’ll Be Missing You, a collaboration with Biggie’s widow Faith Evans. The song featured a sample from The Police’s big hit Every Breath You Take. The track was huge around the world ~ it topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart for 11 weeks and the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart for 9 weeks. The money from the single went towards a fund for Biggie’s children. Combs was moving ahead at a rapid pace musically thanks to this track ~ he performed the song with The Police’s most famous member Sting live at the MTV Video Music Awards and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best R&B Video for the song. It was a bittersweet victory but one that set the tone for much of his future musical projects. He also featured on his first Rolling Stone cover that year.

6. Sean John, The Designer
In 1998 Diddy made a surprise career move ~ he entered the fashion industry. So far, the mogul had more than succeeded at everything that had to do with music. Taking on fashion was a different ball game but he was confident enough to go with it. He launched Sean Jean, a signature collection of sportswear under his birth name. The line was a runaway hit, and has been nominated for the Council Of Fashion Designers Of America Award for Menswear Designer Of The Year every year since 2000. His fashion empire has since grown to include Sean John Clothing, a line of designer men's urban contemporary clothing, Sean John Clothing line for Women, Sean John Footwear and the latest signature design ~ the SJ Elite Sneaker, a product that was designed using the talents of an industrial engineer and an industrial designer.

7. Adds ‘restaurateur’ to his list of accomplishments
Combs’s image as a keen entrepreneur was further cemented when he opened Justin’s (named after his son), an upscale restaurant in Chelsea, New York. The first branch was a huge success and in 1999 Combs opened another branch in Atlanta.

You can read the rest of our feature on P. Diddy in the November-December 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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