- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2001

Rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs considers himself a fitting role model.
Yes, the same Mr. Combs who finds himself in one legal imbroglio after another says his much-publicized transgressions render him more human to his fans, making him a survivor whom others can look toward for inspiration.
"You know, I've been through things," Mr. Combs says, defending his self-described role-model status. "You're not just getting some politician claiming to be some goody-two-shoes."
Mr. Combs spoke on the phone with The Washington Times hours before yesterday's in-store signing appearance at Willies music shop in Temple Hills to promote his new album, "P. Diddy & The Bad Boy Family The Saga Continues."
Mr. Combs snares headlines by dating beautiful starlets, such as former girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, and feeding the hip-hop craze with his Bad Boy Entertainment Group, to the tune of almost $300 million annually in total sales. His much-publicized private life has been riddled with the other kind of headlines, the ones that can lead to jail time.
The hip-hop star was found not guilty of weapons and bribery charges in March stemming from a 1999 shooting at a Times Square nightclub that injured three bystanders.
"After the craziness of the trial, I wanted to go away with my kids," says Mr. Combs, father of two sons, Justin, 7, and Christian, 3. "I wanted to get back to things I loved doing. I rented a studio [in Miami] and started making music for no reason."
Mr. Combs formerly called himself "Puff Daddy," but after his trial, he announced he was changing his nickname to "P. Diddy" to make a fresh start. The late rapper and close friend Notorious B.I.G, aka Christopher Wallace, gave Mr. Combs the P. Diddy nickname. The announcement was a joke, of sorts, Mr. Combs said later, but the media embraced the name change, and eventually he did as well.
He wasn't alone in his Miami studio for long.
"One by one, my artists came around and started visiting me," he says of his extended Bad Boy family. "After three or four weeks, I had 11 songs."
Critics have pored over the release, pointing to some lyrics that could be interpreted as a musical rebuttal to the trial.
He dismisses such analysis.
"A lot of the records don't really mean anything," Mr. Combs says of the album. "It's a reflection of the carefree attitude I've been in."
His "not guilty" rap on "Let's Get It" was recorded long before the trial, he says. "That's Crazy" does make fun of the circuslike trial atmosphere, he says.
The new release features Bad Boy regulars such as Faith Evans and Black Rob, plus newcomers G-Dep, Mark Curry, Kain and Loon.
"There is no fear when I work with my family. I didn't do that as much with 'Forever,'" he says of his last album. "It was the reality that people didn't like that album as much as the first one."
His grip on the music world isn't as tight as it once was. About four years ago, he had a hand in every No. 1 song in the country for 25 straight weeks. This week, "Saga" fell from No. 6 to No. 7 on the Billboard album chart in its third week.
Mr. Combs, a 31-year-old Harlem native, also recently co-starred in the film "Made."
He credits business acumen honed during two years at Howard University, his "second home," as helping launch his career. That career includes his own clothing line, dubbed Sean John, his real first and middle name.
The lawsuits keep coming, too, though. Wardel Fenderson, Mr. Combs' ex-driver, is suing his former boss for $3 million for injuries suffered while helping Mr. Combs escape the Manhattan nightclub shooting.
A former girlfriend, model Kim Porter, is suing Mr. Combs for additional child support for their 3-year-old son.
Last year, he settled a suit filed against him by a record company executive who said Mr. Combs had attacked him. Reckless-driving charges also are being considered after a June 9 incident in which Mr. Combs almost struck a pedestrian after a verbal confrontation with police involving a parking space.
He says his fans will respond most to his continually rising above the fracas. "You know my successes, and you know my mistakes," he says. By the same token, "it's nothing that you're proud of."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide