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The Life and Career of Sean Diddy Combs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born November 4, 1969 in Harlem, New York, Sean Combs made a name for himself in the world of rap and hip hop through his ambition and determination. He has not limited himself to music either - he has a restaurant business, multiple fashion lines, and multiple acting credits. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of musical artist, Sean "Diddy" Combs.

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Uptown Records

Sean John Combs was born November 4th, 1969 in Harlem, New York. While attending Howard University in Washington, DC, Combs became an intern at Uptown Records in New York. Eventually dropping out of school after he was promoted to Vice President of A&R at the label, Combs helped to develop and produce acts such as Jodeci and Mary J. Blige.

Bad Boy Entertainment

After Combs was fired from Uptown, he created Bad Boy Entertainment in 1993. He gained early success with the release of The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. He also signed acts such as Faith Evans and 112, and produced for Usher, Mariah Carey, and TLC, whose album CrazySexyCool became the best-selling R&B album of the 1990’s. It was also around this time that the rivalry between Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records surfaced. This saw the West Coast label’s Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight publicly making fun of Combs and The Notorious B.I.G. in songs and media appearances.

Puff Daddy

It was in 1997 that the Puff Daddy and the Family album, No Way Out, was released. This record spawned the singles “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” and “I’ll Be Missing You,” which was recorded in memory of The Notorious B.I.G. Forever, his first album solely under the Puff Daddy name, came out two years later. Despite its success, hip-hop fans criticized Combs for over-commercializing the genre, not using enough original material and collaborating too much with guests.

Weapons Violations

At the end of 1999, Combs was arrested for weapons violations after gunfire broke out at a Manhattan nightclub he attended with then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. Though both Combs and fellow rapper, Shyne, were sent to trial, Combs was found not guilty on all charges while Shyne was convicted and sentenced to prison for 10 years.

P. Diddy

Hoping to distance himself from the negative press that had built up, in 2001 Combs changed his stage name to “P. Diddy.” He made acting appearances in the films “Made” and “Monster’s Ball” but also got into trouble with the law again when he was accused of assault and reckless driving. The same year, he released “The Saga Continues...,” an album that featured the tracks “Bad Boy for Life” and “I Need a Girl.”

Other Projects

Combs then switched it up a bit and started working with pop artists such as Britney Spears and ‘NSYNC. He also signed the girl group, Dream, to Bad Boy Records and took over the second run of the MTV series, Making the Band in 2002. In 2003, he raised $2 million in the New York City Marathon for the city’s educational system. And in 2004, he encouraged young people to vote when he founded the “Vote or Die” campaign for that year’s Presidential Election.


2005 was the year Combs announced yet another name change, to simply Diddy. A court order from DJ Richard “Diddy” Dearlove, however, forced him to continue using P. Diddy as his stage name in the UK. Showing no signs of slowing down, Combs then sold Bad Boy Records to the Warner Music Group. His fourth album, entitled Press Play, was released in 2006.

Acting and Interscope Records

In the next few years, Combs continued to add to his acting and television credits. In 2008, he premiered his VH1 series, “I Want to Work for Diddy.” He also reprised the role he had played on-stage in “A Raisin in the Sun,” in its 2008 television adaptation. 2010 saw him star in the comedy film, “Get Him to the Greek.” He didn’t forget about his musical career, though: it was during this time he left Warner Music and ultimately signed a deal with Interscope Records in 2009.

Businessman and Entrepreneur

With two clothing lines, a line of men’s fragrances, a movie production company and an upscale restaurant chain, it is without a doubt that Sean “Diddy” Combs has made a solid name for himself in both the worlds of music and business.

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