Bad Boy Entertainment
|Sean 'Diddy' Jean Combs||November 4th, 1969 Queens, New York|
Sean Combs built his Bad Boy empire in 1993 after a faltering relationship as A&R executive for Andre Harrell's Uptwon Records. After dear friend, rapper Heavy D hooked him up with an internship at Uptown Records to learn the ropes of the music industry from under (CEO) Harrell's wings at just 19 years young. Combs formerly set up organised hip-hop and basketball events within his Harlem community. Combs worked his way up the corporate ladder at Uptown to A&R executive to eventually vice-president status serving as the executive producer to Mary J. Blige and Heavy D. Combs headed some of Uptown's most ingenious promotional campaigns stepping over traditional strategies to put together what he called a "street team." The team would travel out to the ghetto housing projects and set up basketball tournaments with potential record buyers, or visit clubs and talk up new talent as the next big thing in music. This became so effective that similar approaches were adopted by other record companies.
Harrell fired Combs in early '93 due to a clash of thought. Combs was fiercely ambitious and fought every chance he could with Harrell's decisions believing he knew better. Combs then entered the free-agent market and put his junior entrepreneurial skills to play and opened his own recording agency. Bad Boy Entertainment was quickly established as Harrell threw out Comb's signed acts from Uptown, Christopher Wallace, better known as 'Notorious B.I.G.' and Craig Mack. Combs scooped them up and sheltered their talents at Bad Boy. The boutique label of Sean 'Puff daddy' Combs was open for business out of his apartment
Bad Boy's first project released was Craig Mack's single, “Flava In Ya Ear,” followed up with his opus album, Project: Funk Da World released September 20th, 1994. The album spawned three singles and reached gold status by February the following year. The album dropped one week after B.I.G.'s Ready To Die which became the multi-platinum trophy-record for Comb's Bad Boy Entertainment. Ready To Die is now considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever released. Again three singles dropped from Biggie's début and glossing over Craig Mack, his records dominated the charts in 1995 making Biggie hip-hop's biggest star and Bad Boy's favourite son. the rap world soon began to revolve around Notorious BIG's spittin'.
In 1995, the label continued its success with female group, Total and Faith Evans making platinum recordings for the label. Bad Boy made room and housed a whole gaggle of writer/producers, with: Easy Mo Bee, Chucky Thompson, Nashiem Myrick and D Dot all responsible for the new world sound of Bad Boy's dominant sounds. In 1996 after signing Mase, and The Lox, Arista chief, Clive Davis was very impressed by Sean Comb's business he offered a 50/50 partnership. Arista offered financial backing and Bad Boy recordings went through Arista and parent company, BMG as distributors. This joint venture enabled Bad Boy to open a global expansion. During it's first four years the company sold over $100 million in record sales. Bad Boy had become the most successful east coast record label since Def Jam's run in the golden age. Their only competition for national sales lay in the West, the Untouchable Death Row Records.
The heightened emergence and speed in which it got there with mega-star record sales from Notorious BIG, Bad Boy Entertainment was put in parallel competition with Los Angeles based, Death Row Records, home to giants, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound and it's CEO, the criminally-dangerous megalomaniacal Suge Knight. Bad Boy and Puffy Combs sat in Knight's stomach like sour milk. Up to 1995 Death Row had ruled the commercial scene in hip-hop across both coasts. With the phenomenal attention of Bad Boy's artists and its East Coast counterpart, Knight's Death Row stooped to tactics of bullying to prevent sharing the spoils.
Knight publicly jeered Combs and Bad Boy at the 1995 Source Awards. Tensions boiled over when superstar-loudmouth Tupac Shakur signed with Death Row, after forging a very-public indignant beef with Bad Boy's B.I.G. It seemed Tupac had made an alliance with Death Row over a common enemy, anything affiliated with Bad Boy and Biggie. The unfortunate result saw fans buying into some fantasy war between coasts of the hip-hop world. The media dubbed this the, "East v West War". It turned from a label rivalry into a coastal feud. This led to an astronomically unfortunate outcome, losing two of hip-hop's golden boys.
Puffy Combs had tried to remain as a calming mediator, denouncing any feudal conflicts and gagging many of his Bad Boy artists from responding to threats from the west. By 1996 it came to a head with both camps of Bad Boy-Death Row releasing hostile records toward each other, to the point where bad Boy had hired local Crip gangs to act as security against Death Row's openly Blood affiliated connections. The alarming results, Tupac Shakur murdered in Las Vegas, September 1996. Regardless of Bad Boy releasing a public statement of condolence, the bad blood waged further and by March the following year Christopher 'Biggie' Wallace was murdered. This was right when Bad Boy was gearing up for the follow-up release of Biggie's album, the double-barrelled, Life After Death. The death of both hip-hop legends left both coasts silently mourning for a long time, resenting anything translated as beef toward each other. A new era had dawned upon the rap world. Bad Boy quickly pushed out albums during the aftermath while fans were still mourning. Combs made sure he would not miss an opportunity. After all, this is business.