2017 has been an exceptional year for P Diddy, who was named the world’s highest-paid celebrity by Forbes with an estimated income of $130m (£100m).
With a flamboyant career spanning almost three decades, it’s only right that fans and critics alike find out how the star built his multi-million dollar empire from nothing. Directed by Daniel Kaufman, a new documentary titled Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story uncovers the rollercoaster journey of how Diddy established an iconic record label.
How his humble beginnings inspired his eventual success
Diddy was born in Harlem, New York, and raised in Mount Vernon. He and his sisters were brought up by his grandmother and mother, Janice. His father, Melvin Earl Combs, died when Diddy was just 3. He was told his father had died in a car accident. It was only years later that Diddy found out the truth: it was a drug deal gone wrong that took Combs Sr’s life.
While his mother worked four jobs to support the family, young Diddy also helped out. He served as a newspaper delivery boy, a doorman and a lavatory attendant. In an interview with Evening Standard, Diddy revealed that his motivation to become wealthy came from seeing “the look of embarrassment on her [his mother’s] face sometimes when she couldn’t provide for me the right way”.
Who is the real Diddy?
Bad Boy Records was launched in 1993. It has gone through its share of highs and lows, but never lost its footing. Diddy’s extraordinary vision in signing artists like Notorious BIG, Faith Evans and many others clearly shows his knack for spotting talent. But what it also shows is his flair for business. He once told Entrepreneur magazine: “Any business I get into, I go and I do the proper studying and I do the research to make sure I thoroughly understand that business.”
The documentary clearly highlights how Diddy’s success hasn’t come by chance. The man is a leader. He is a perfectionist. He is relentless and unapologetic. As Rolling Stone rightly puts it, Diddy is “The Hardest-Working Man in Hip-Hop”.
Why hip-hop owes its success to Diddy
Bad Boy made its first major impact on the Billboard charts with Craig Mack’s Flava In Ya Ear (Remix) in 1994. After this, there was just no looking back for Diddy as his label produced one hit after another. More importantly, hip-hop had finally entered mainstream music in America where it continues to exert influence to this day.
In 1997, the single I’ll Be Missing You from Diddy’s debut album No Way Out became the first rap song to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. This tribute to his friend Notorious BIG, who was shot in a feud, topped the charts for 11 consecutive weeks.
How Diddy’s innate entrepreneurial skills made him a fortune
Diddy’s wealth hasn’t just come from his success in the music industry. His acute sense of business and knack for self-promotion have propelled him to becoming one of the richest celebrities in the world with a net worth of $820 million. He is predicted to become the first hip-hop billionaire in history.
He admitted in an interview with The Washington Post that even when he started his first job at age 12, he struck a business deal through his entrepreneurial spirit. He revealed: “At the time, I wasn’t old enough to work legally, so I made a deal with the paper boys who were leaving for college. I told them to let me deliver their papers and I’d send them half of the money. By the time I was 13, I had six routes.”
What are Diddy’s business ventures?
Diddy has invested in diverse business areas including clothing, television, fragrance, vodka and bottled water.
His clothing company Sean John reportedly earns half a billion dollars in annual sales. Global Brands Group bought a majority stake in Sean John in November 2016 for $70m.
Diddy has also purchased a majority stake in healthy bottled water company Aquahydrate with actor Mark Wahlberg and business man Ronald Burkle. Aquahydrate has witnessed triple-digit annual growth since 2012 and, according to research firm AC Nielsen, has become the fastest growing bottled water in the US.
Diddy’s foray into television came with a major equity stake in Revolt TV, which began broadcasting in 2014. According to Diddy, the network caters to the modern digital era of social media. Revolt TV has also produced films like Lawless starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain, through its entity Revolt Films.
According to Forbes, it is the vodka brand Cîroc that provides Diddy with his largest earnings around “low-to-mid nine-figures”.