Sean Combs (born November 4, 1969), also known by his stage name Diddy or P. Diddy, is an American rapper, singer, record producer, actor and men's fashion designer. 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,” but continues to use the name P. Diddy in the U.K. as the result of a lawsuit. His business interests under the umbrella of Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide include 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. In 2011 Forbes estimated his net worth at $475 million, making him the richest figure in hip hop.
Combs was born in Harlem and grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. He dropped out of Howard University to become a top executive at Uptown Records. In 1993, after being fired from Uptown, Combs established Bad Boy Records, taking then-newcomer 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 The Notorious B.I.G.'s “Ready to Die.” Combs began signing more acts to Bad Boy, including 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.
From 1994 to 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 Singles chart. His debut album, “No Way Out” was a #1 album on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and won the 1998 Grammy Award for best rap album. His second single, “I'll Be Missing You,” in memory of The Notorious B.I.G. debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two #2 singles, “Been Around the World” and “It's All about the Benjamins” were also released. The album has been certified 7× platinum by the RIAA.
By the late 1990s, Combs was receiving criticism for watering down and overly commercializing hip-hop and overusing guest appearances by other artists, samples and interpolations of past hits in his own hit songs. He collaborated with Jimmy Page on the song “Come with Me” which sampled the Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir” for the “Godzilla” film. Producer Tom Morello supplied live guitar parts, playing bass on the song.
“Forever” was released in 1999, and debuted atop the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, as well as peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified platinum by the RIAA. The single “Satisfy You” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on both the Hot Rap Singles and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Track charts.
Combs released “The Saga Continues...” in 2001 which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was later certified platinum. In 2001, after his acquittal on gun possession and bribery charges stemming from an incident at Club New York, Combs changed his stage name from “Puff Daddy” to “P. Diddy.”
Combs began working with a series of atypical artists. A collaboration with David Bowie appeared on the soundtrack to the 2001 film “Training Day” and he also worked with Britney Spears and 'N Sync. In 2005, Combs announced that he was altering his stage name yet again, dropping the “P.” and referring to himself simply as “Diddy.” However this upset Richard “Diddy” Dearlove, a London based musical artist and DJ, who in November 2005 sought an injunction but accepted an out-of-court settlement and as a result, Combs no longer uses the name Diddy in the U.K., where he is still known as P. Diddy.
In 2008 the same year Combs sold his record company to the Warner Music Group. Combs released his first album in four years, “Press Play,” in 2006 on Bad Boy Records with guest appearances from Christina Aguilera, Keyshia Cole, Mario Winans, Nas, Will.i.am, Mary J. Blige, Nicole Scherzinger, Jamie Foxx, Fergie, Big Boi, Ciara, Twista, Just Blaze, Pharrell and Brandy. The album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 in its first week. Combs did not sing at all on the album's first single, “Come To Me” featuring Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, but rather did his traditional rapping. He did sing on the third single, “Last Night” featuring Keyshia Cole. “Tell Me” featuring Christina Aguilera was released as the second single.
Since 2009 he has recorded and performed as part of the group Diddy - Dirty Money. In 2010 Diddy - Dirty Money released their debut album, “Last Train to Paris” which peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200. The release was preceded by four singles “Angels,” “Hello Good Morning,” “Loving You No More” and “Coming Home” which received mixed success on the Billboard Hot 100.