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Combs, Sean “Puffy” (aka “Puff Daddy”)

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Combs, Sean “Puffy” (aka “Puff Daddy”), one of rap music’s most successful artists and entrepreneurs; b. N.Y.C., Nov. 4, 1969. When he produces or does commerce for his Bad Boy Records and other businesses, he’s Sean Combs, businessman. When he performs, he’s Puff Daddy and he calls his posse the Family. In both guises, he has proven one of the most successful music creators of the 1990s.

Sean Combs was born in Harlem. His mother taught school. His father died in a car accident when Combs was a toddler. At two years old, he was modeling for Baskin-Robbins ice cream, a luminary even then. He grew up in the Westchester suburb of Mount Vernon and went to Mount St. Michael’s, an all-boys Catholic school. Through school, he maintained several paper routes. He started attending college at Howard Univ. During his junior year, he got an internship at Uptown Records through one of their artists, his Mount Vernon homeboy Heavy D. He proved so invaluable at Uptown that they hired him. He worked on projects with Mary J. Blige, Heavy D, Father MC Jodeci, and others.

Combs and Heavy D also promoted a benefit basketball game at City Coll. in 1991. The game featured some noted rap stars, coming together to shoot hoops to raise money for the fight against AIDS. More people turned out for the event than the venue could handle and nine people were trampled to death in the ensuing crush to enter the stadium. This did little to enhance rap’s violent reputation.

Venturing out on his own, Combs formed Bad Boy Entertainment out of his apartment. Within a year, he had hits with Craig Mack and the Notorious BIG. When Mack’s“Flava in Your Ear” went platinum and BIG’s album, Ready to Die went double platinum he was on his way.

Combs signed BIG’s wife Faith Evans and his backing group Total to the label, as well as 112, expanding Bad Boy’s reach into R&B. He firmed up the label’s grip on hip-hop signing Mase and the LOX. Additionally, he continued producing outside acts, including Mariah Carey, Boys II Men, and Aretha Franklin.

In 1997 BIG was shot to death outside of a party in Los Angeles. Three weeks later, his second album, Life After Death, came out, debuting at #1. Combs had been working on a solo project, but delayed it as he mourned his friend. He finally unleashed the debut project by Puff Daddy and the Family during the summer of 1997. The single“Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” spent nearly two months at the top of the charts. The second single,“I’ll Be Missing You,” a tribute to BIG that heavily sampled the Police’s“Every Breath You Take,” also zoomed to the top of the chart. The song earned Combs ASCAP Songwriter of the Year honors, took home the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, and sold triple platinum. When the album, No Way Out, hit the stands, it debuted at #1 as well, eventually selling octuple platinum. The album spawned the gold single“Victory” and the platinum“Been Around the World.” It won the 1998 Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Diversifying even further, Combs invested his money in a restaurant and a line of clothing. He worked on a posthumous BIG release and continued producing. For the soundtrack to the movie Godzilla, he duetted with Jimmy Page on the platinum single“Come with Me.” Bad Boy also reached into the realm of rock, signing another performer from the Godzilla soundtrack, the band Fuzzbubble. In 1998 Forbes magazine featured him on the cover, extolling his business acumen. Combs also found himself in trouble with the law again, accused of beating a record company executive over a controversial image in a video.

His second album, 1999’s Forever, featured a host of guest artists, ranging from Bad Boy signées such as Mase and Faith Evans to hip-hop stars such as Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, and LiT Kim to R&B stars such as R. Kelly. Beyond his success in music, Combs was hard at work in 1999 on a Puff Daddy and the Family cartoon, as well as various charitable pursuits. No matter which way the music business goes, Combs will continue to be an influential force.

Comden, Betty (originally, Cohen, Basya),and Adolph Green [next] [back] Combs, Sean(1969–) - Rap musician, record producer, actor, Works at Uptown Records, Chronology

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