SEAN COMBS The Branding of an Uber Star
by Kaya Morgan
One of the hottest entertainers in popular music, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, has made Fortune magazine's, "America's 40 Richest Under 40" list more than just once. Dominating the music industry, garnering dozens of awards, tailoring artists into platinum acts and traveling in the upper echelons of the entertainment industry, Combs has built a colossal empire around his most tangible asset himself. With his penchant for furs, jewels and Cristal Champagne, this slender, soft-spoken and unfailingly polite entertainment mogul has successfully used his fame as a springboard to a rising business empire coupled with vast personal wealth estimated at close to $300 million.
Born in Harlem, Combs might have grown up as an inner city kid with a questionable future. However, when he was just two years old, the tragic murder of his father forced his mother, a model, to move Sean and his sister to a safer environment in Mount Vernon, New York. Mother, Janice, worked three jobs to provide the best opportunities possible for the education of her children. "She was constantly pushing me. I feel like I was nurtured into wanting to be somebody special," recalls Combs. He felt fortunate to attend Mount Vernon Montessori School and Mount St. Michael Academy, a Catholic, boys' high school which helped give him a strong character base.
While working toward his major in business administration at Howard University in Washington, D.C., he produced weekly dance parties, and ran an airport shuttle service while attending classes. Shuttling back and forth between New York City and Washington, D.C. was a challenge until at age 19, he became one of the youngest directors of A&R records, marking the beginning of one of the most successful and rapid ascents in the history of the entertainment industry. With a natural knack for marketing, and his brilliant combination of producer and remix whiz, he helped catapult the hip-hop style of African-American music into the American mainstream.
Life turned a corner when Combs was offered an internship at Uptown Records where he met industry leader, Andre Harrell. Shuttling back and forth between New York City and Washington, D.C. was a challenge until at age 19, he became director of A&R. Combs became the sculptor of many well known artists. His brilliant combination of producer and remix whiz helped catapult the hip-hop style of African-American music into the American mainstream.
The time was ripe in 1993 when he created a groundbreaking new company of his own, Bad Boy Entertainment. The company had unprecedented success with such hip-hop and R&B recording artists as Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Mary J. Blige, LLCool J, New Edition, Method Man, Babyface, TLC and Boyz II Men bringing Combs recognition as a power producer, arranger and CEO with a natural ability for finding great talent as well as developing some of the biggest, chart-dominating hits in the music industry.
In 1996, Combs was named ASCAP's "Songwriter of the Year," and by 1997, Bad Boy Entertainment had sold nearly $100 million in recordings, and made a multimillion dollar deal with Arista records for the management of the label. Finally, in 1997, Combs launched his own album, No Way Out, which became the third best-selling LP of 1997 with more than 3.4 million copies sold.
In 2001, Combs added the film and television industry to his repertoire, making his acting debut in the Artisan comedy, Made, as well as giving a sizzling performance in the Lion's Gate feature, Monster's Ball. And, his MTV's reality television show, "Making The Band," is now in its second season as a huge hit! "This season makes other reality shows look like a pajama party at a monastery," says Combs.
Without question, Combs talents extend way beyond just the music industry. What started out as a venture run out of his own home has expanded not only into a multifaceted company, but also a multimillion dollar business. When discussing his many ventures, Combs clearly makes the point, "I am a very focused person." His Bad Boy ventures now include: Notorious magazine; Justin Combs Music Publishing; Blue Flame Marketing & Advertising; Bad Boy Productions; Janice Combs Management; Bad Boy Technologies; Bad Boy Films; Bad Boy Books; Daddy's House Studios.
In 1998 the Sean John Clothing was launched, consisting of designer jeans and sportswear, menswear, womenswear, loungewear, underwear and boys, all inspired by Combs diverse personal style. Nominated by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for the prestigious Perry Ellis Menswear Award in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, Combs admits, "I always had the idea that I would start my own apparel line, but I wanted to make sure that I had the time to devote to it." Then in 2005, he launched the Sean John Fragrance line.
Finally, in 2013, Combs went after another dream of his by partnering with Comcast, he launched Revolt TV, a music cable network; and, by 2014 he added Fuse cable TV.
Far exceeding a charitable gesture, Combs has helped to create and fund innovative youth programs through his Daddy's House Social Programs that include Wall Street training teams, college visit tours for high school seniors, international travel groups, summer camp programs and internships at Bad Boy which Combs himself instructs. He has donated well over $1 million dollars to his former alma mater, Howard University, for African-American youth studies, donated more than 100 computers to 500 New York City public schools, and his Daddy's House charity sponsors a "Hungry and Homeless" Thanksgiving Day dinner for more than 30,000 people in Atlanta, Georgia.
When musing on his life thus far, he shares, "What I'm most concerned about is finding inner peace and happiness. All that glitters isn't gold. And there are things better than gold like having a meaningful conversation, seeing your kids healthy and smiling, and getting along with your mother." Combs has a lot of things going for him: an iconic status, a heroic stance and a massive following where celebrity counts. Is it any wonder, with such innate talent, that everything this man touches does turn to gold.
For more information, go to BadBoyEntertainment.com. Or, click on Kaya Morgan to return to author's bio page and other stories.
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