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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who is Sean John Combs?


Who is Sean John Combs? [1]), the music and rap world  knows him by his stage names Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and now Diddy, is an American record producer, rapper, actor, men's fashion designer, entrepreneur and dancer. 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". He continues to use the name P. Diddy in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the latter after a legal battle with another artist, Richard "Diddy" Dearlove.[2] In June 2008 Combs' representative denied rumors of another name change.[3]
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. Combs is one of the richest hip-hop performers, having a net worth estimated at US $346 million in 2006.[4] He is portrayed by Derek Luke in the biopic of The Notorious B.I.G. called Notorious.

Combs was born November 4, 1969 in the public housing projects of Harlem, New York, the son of Janice and Melvin Combs. He grew up in Mount Vernon, just to the north of the New York City borough of The Bronx. When Combs was two, his father was shot to death in his car on January 26, 1972 at age 33 in a Manhattan park following a party he attended. The elder Combs was an associate of Frank Lucas, the New York drug lord.[5] Both Lucas and rival gangster Nicky Barnes publicly state that they were close with Melvin.[6]


Combs played football at the Roman Catholic Mount Saint Michael Academy, where he played defense. When Combs was a senior in 1986, his team won a division title. Combs has "fond memories" of his high school buddies, one of whom (the team quarterback) was reputed Gambino crime family enforcer, Andrew Campos. Combs is not alleged, either in court papers or by law enforcement sources, to have engaged in any wrongdoing in any of his dealings with Campos.[7]


After completing his private secondary education at Mount Saint Michael Academy in 1987, Combs attended Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard he gained a reputation as a party promoter, showing an early penchant for marketing and promotions, and eventually became an intern at New York's Uptown Records.[5] In a display of his tenacity, he would travel back and forth between Washington and New York, juggling his classes and his internship. He eventually dropped out of Howard[8] when he became a top executive 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. The concert was held at the City College of New York gymnasium following an AIDS charity basketball game. The event was massively overcrowded; it was oversold to almost twice the capacity of the gymnasium. In addition, thousands without tickets were outside. In order to keep them from sneaking in, Combs' people shut the only door to a stairwell and put a table behind it, despite the crowd jammed inside pounding on the door and pleading for help. At some point people in the crowd outside broke several glass doors in an attempt to get in; this caused a stampede inside the gymnasium in which nine people died.[9] In a 1999 ruling, a Court of Claims judge found Puff Daddy and Heavy D. responsible for 50 percent of the incident. City College bore the rest of the responsibility in part for abandoning security responsibility to Puff Daddy, even though they knew the event was oversold.


In 1992, Combs entered into an agreement with Hartford, Connecticut, disc jockey JC "Big Balla" Sledge to start a label in Hartford for the city's untapped talent, named Hip Hart Beat Records. The pair had creative differences over the usage of talent and eventually split. In a statement to Rolling Stone Magazine, JC said, "Sean and I remain friends, just not as close as we once were. Our split where it relates to business was because we saw two totally different avenues. I wanted to drive left and go the way of Def Jam and its mainstay of artists and Puffy [Puff Daddy] wanted to drive right, business as usual. The split was amicable. Hip Hart Beat Records will one day become a reality. We are close now."

After being fired from Uptown in 1993,[10] Combs went on to establish Bad Boy Records, taking new hip-hop artist 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 B.I.G.'s Ready to Die.[9] Combs began signing more acts to Bad Boy, including, Dream, 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 (known as "The L.O.X." at the time) soon joined Bad Boy, just as a widely publicized rivalry with the West Coast's Death Row Records was beginning. Combs and 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".

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 a #1 album and won the 1998 Grammy Award for best rap album.








He collaborated with Jimmy Page on the song "Come with Me" for the Godzilla film. 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.




By the late 1990s he was receiving criticism for watering down and overly commercializing hip-hop for a mainstream market and as overusing guest appearances by other artists as well as samples and interpolations of past hits for the majority of his own hit songs.[11][12] The Onion parodied this phenomenon in a 1997 article called "New rap song samples Billie Jean in its entirety, adds nothing."[13]

In December 1999, Combs was accused of assaulting Steve Stoute of Interscope Records. Stoute was the manager for Nas, whose video for "Hate Me Now" featured Nas being crucified. Though Combs had willingly filmed the video scene earlier that year, he 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 Biggie'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.[1] 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.[14]

With a gag order in place, the highly-publicized trial began. His attorney was Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.. After the trial was over, Combs was found not guilty on all charges; Shyne was convicted on the same charges[10] and sentenced to ten years in prison. Combs and Lopez split shortly after.
A lawsuit filed by Combs's driver, Fenderson, was settled in February 2004. Fenderson said he suffered emotional damage after the club shooting. Lawyers for both sides, having agreed to keep the settlement terms secret, refused to say what it took to resolve the case; they would say only that the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.[15]

In 2001, after his acquittal on gun possession and bribery charges, Combs changed his stage name from "Puff Daddy" to "P. Diddy".[16] He later appeared as a drug dealer in the film Made and starred with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton in Monster's Ball.





Combs tried to reinvent his image, but was once again in court facing assault charges from a Detroit television host, Dr. Roger Mills, and then was arrested for driving on a suspended license in Florida.[17] In spite of continuing legal problems, he decided that he was going to release a gospel album, Thank You, but it was never released. After yet more legal problems stemming from an accusation of reckless driving by the Miami police, he began working with a series of unusual (for him) artists. A collaboration with David Bowie appeared on the soundtrack to Training Day, whilst he also began working 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.



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 it, contestants compete to be in a new group on Bad Boy Records. The six finalists have to come up with their name, CD and video (see Da Band). The group was maligned by comics and critics, including a well-known skit that appeared on Chappelle's Show, and 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.[18] On March 10, 2004, he appeared in an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the marathon. He finished the marathon 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 one of the main characters around with weapons, literally threatening to kill him if he wouldn't vote in his school election.

On August 16, 2005, Combs appeared on the Today show and announced that he was altering his stage name yet again, dropping the "P." and referring to himself simply as "Diddy", saying that "the P was getting between me and my fans."[19] However this name change to Diddy upset Richard "Diddy" Dearlove, a London based musical artist & DJ.[20] Richard Dearlove filed suit in November 2005 in the Royal Court of Justice, London to start injunctive proceedings, a case which he won when an out of court settlement of £110,000 was agreed. As a result, Combs no longer uses the name Diddy in the UK, where he is still known as P. Diddy.[2][21]
Combs also starred in the 2005 Carlito's Way: Rise to Power. He had played the role of Walter Lee Younger in the critically acclaimed 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun and the television adaptation which aired February 2008.


Also in 2005, Combs sold his record company to the Warner Music Group. Tensions still existed between him and former Warner's 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 a 2005 interview with AndPOP, Combs also said that he was developing a new 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.[22] 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."



Combs released the album Press Play on October 17, 2006, his first album in 4 years, under the Bad Boy Records label.[23] These have signed to his label 'Bad Boy Records, Nas, Will.i.am (of 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 reached number one on its first week in the charts.




It was reported that Combs would be singing on all the tracks of this album, but on the album's first single, "Come To Me" (featuring Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls), he did not sing at all, but rather did his traditional rapping. He does sing on the third single, "Last Night" (featuring Keyshia Cole). "Tell Me" (featuring Christina Aguilera) was released as the second single. He was asking fans on his MySpace page[24] to help him choose the fourth single, which was "Through the Pain (She Told Me)" (featuring Mario Winans).





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 LA Times claimed that the Notorious B.I.G. and Combs knew about Tupac Shakur's death before hand. The LA Times later retracted this story, saying it believes the FBI reports were fabricated.[25]









August 2008 saw the debut of Combs's venture into reality television with the premiere of his VH1 series I Want to Work for Diddy.[26]
After the second season finale of Making the Band 4, Combs confirmed that he will be heading back into the studio to record his next album.

In 2002, he was featured on Fortune magazine's "40 Richest People Under 40" list and was placed number one in the list of the top ten richest people in hip-hop. He has donated undisclosed amounts to the Patricia Kirby Foundation, an organization that battles teenage bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders. In 2006 his estimated worth was US $346 million, making him one of the richest people in the hip hop entertainment business.[27][4]

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,[28] and won in 2004.[29]
The clothing line became controversial in 2003 when it was discovered that factories producing the clothing in Honduras were violating Honduran labor law.[30] Among the accusations put forth were that workers were subjected to body searches and paid sweatshop wages.[31] 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."[30]
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."[32] 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.[33]

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 his blog he stated: "There is a black president and it's time for there to be a black Bond".[35] 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 print ad in Times Square.

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 was closed in September 2007.[36] He is the designer of the green Dallas Mavericks alternate jersey.[37]
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 50-50 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.[38]


Combs has never married but is the biological father of four children and one through association. His on-again, off-again girlfriend Kimberly Porter has a son Quincy Jones Brown (December 1991) with '80s New Jack Swing romantic singer/producer Al B Sure, for whom Combs served as a father.[39] Quincy was featured on My Super Sweet 16. Combs' first biological child was Justin Dior Combs (December 1993), his son from a relationship with high school sweetheart, designer Misa Hylton-Brim. His second child is son Christian Casey Combs (April 1998) with Kim Porter. Porter also had Combs' twin daughters, D'Lila Star Combs and Jessie James Combs, in December 2006.[40]







In July 2007 Combs and Porter ended their relationship.[41] In October 2007 Combs took legal responsibility for Chance, his daughter with Sarah Chapman.[39]





On October 13, 2006, the mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, gave Combs the key to the city[42] and a pair of cufflinks to commemorate the inauguration of an annual October 13 "Diddy Day".[43] He received the honor as reward for certain charitable work at Chicago's City Hall.
In the February 2007 issue of Blender magazine, Combs spoke about his wardrobe. He describes his style in three words: "Swagger. Timeless. Diverse."[44] On September 2, 2007, Combs held his ninth annual "White Party" in which all guests are limited to an all white dress code. The hip-hop mogul's annual White Party, which he has held in St. Tropez in recent years, 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."[45]
Combs has residences in Manhattan; Alpine, New Jersey; East Hampton, New York; Miami Beach, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.
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