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Diddy - Biography

Diddy is one of the most successful figures in music

Diddy - Biography
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
Updated: June 14, 2023
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Who is Diddy?

Diddy, born Sean John Combs and formerly known as Puff Daddy and P. Diddy, is an American rapper, record producer and entrepreneur. 

The artist is helmed as one of the most influential figures in hip-hop and rose to fame after founding his own record label, Bad Boy Records, in the early nineties which produced artists including the Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige and Usher. In addition to music, Diddy has acted and been a successful businessman thanks to his fashion endeavours with clothing line, Sean John, and setting up his empire, Combs Enterprises, which is an umbrella portfolio of businesses.

In 2017, Forbes listed his 2017 earnings as $130 million and that year he was the number one earner among entertainers. As of mid-2023, his estimated net worth sits at $ 1 billion, making him the second richest rapper behind Jay Z – who has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion.

Diddy's early life

Sean Combs was born on November 4, 1969, in Harlem, New York. His father Melvin was murdered before Sean's fourth birthday and Diddy's mother Janice moved the family to Mount Vernon in upstate New York, working three jobs to send her two children to private Catholic schools. An altar boy at Mount St Michael Academy, Sean sang in the church choir and performed in the school's theatre productions. "He liked that applause and being in the spotlight," said Janice previously.

Diddy's career

As a freshman at Washington DC's Howard University, Diddy was an instant celebrity on campus. His parties were deemed "legendary", and he used his connections to land an internship at Uptown Records, leaving DC behind before completing his degree. In a remarkably short time, he became an influential executive, producing artists such as Grammy winner Mary J Blige. He left Uptown and started his own record label, Bad Boy Entertainment.

In 1996 he hooked up with Arista Records, and for a reported $6 million aligned his fledgling firm with the recording giant. At this point Diddy was behind the scenes in the studio and planning ingenious marketing campaigns to break new artists. All that would change in 1997. Following the death of his confidante, the rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, Diddy recorded I'll Be Missing You, a tribute to his late friend featuring a sample of the Police's Every Breath You Take. 

The single was wildly popular, pushing sales of the album No Way Out to over seven million copies and making Diddy a celebrity rapper in his own right. Just a few years on Bad Boy Entertainment was grossing upwards of $100 million a year. "Puffy's work ethic is relentless," said Ron Gillyard, a music executive, and one-time Vice President at Bad Boy. "I would be falling asleep at 3 am and he would still be in the studio mixing somebody's vocals. To understand Puffy, my advice is to forget the car, forget the house, watch him work."

In 1999 Diddy launched a clothing line and became known for hanging out in the Hamptons a Long Island summer playground for the fabulously wealthy and displaying his $400 million fortune at every chance. Suddenly the man who built an empire out of bridging the gap between street credibility and pop had lost his urban base. When his 1999 album Forever failed to debut at number one, the New York Post ran this headline: "Puff, The Magic's Draggin'". Diddy was still in the news, but now for his extra-curricular activities. In 2001 he faced up to 15 years behind bars for charges stemming from a December 27, 1999, shootout at Manhattan's Club New York. Then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez was never asked to testify, and he was later cleared of all charges in a much-publicized trial. Following the verdict, Diddy announced changes to his personal life; namely making his family a top priority. That family includes his mum, Janice, his two sons Justin and Christian from ex-wife Misa Hylton and ex-girlfriend Kim Porter, respectively, and his stepson Quincy from another relationship.

In 2002 he celebrated his 33rd birthday at a three-day party in Morocco, with the country's progressive young ruler, King Mohammed VI, allegedly picking up the tab for the festivities. It seems the bad boy, who as a 12-year-old subcontracted the work on his newspaper round to three other kids, is intent on longevity, whether as Puff Daddy, Puffy, P Diddy or, as he announced in 2005, just plain Diddy. "That's the way America is," he said of entertainment's changing landscape. "At the end of the day, we'll just see who's still here."

Diddy's love life and family

Diddy is a father of seven. The rapper's first child, Justin, was born in 1993 to designer Misa Hylton-Brim. From 1994, Diddy was in an on-off again relationship with Kimberly Porter until 2007. Together, the couple welcomed a son, named Christian, in 1998, and twin daughters, D'Lila Star and Jessie James, in 2006. 

Diddy also raised and adopted Quincy (born in 1991), Porter's son from a previous relationship. Diddy also welcomed another daughter, Chance, five months before the birth of his twin daughters, to Sarah Chapman. And, in 2022, Diddy's seventh child, a daughter named Love Sean Combs, was born to Dana Tran. Diddy's family was shaken was Kimberly Porter died of pneumonia on November 15, 2018.

Diddy's sexual assault allegations

In late 2023, Sean Combs was the subject of several sexual assault and abuse allegations and lawsuits. The first was filed by his former protege and girlfriend, Cassie, who claimed Diddy enforced "years of abuse" upon her including assault and trafficking. Diddy vehemently denied the claims and the pair settled out of court. 

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