Diddy's Rise From Booger-Eater to Insurance Hawker to Superstar
The triumphs, scandals, and serial reinventions that comprise the official mythology of "Diddy" né "P. Diddy" né "Puff Daddy" né Sean Combs are compelling, indeed. But what of Diddy's hidden history, the triumphs and mega-triumphs that he's not yet disclosed for general consumption? We've meticulously compiled it here.
1969: Sean John Combs is born to Janice and Melvin Earl Combs at St. Luke's Hospital in Harlem. Portending his future as hip-hop's leading star-maker, Combs persuades LaJuanica Taylor — a fellow infant in St. Luke's postnatal ward — to legally change her name to "Lady Googoo" and embark on a five-continent world tour with Al Green. Alas, the partnership dissolves when Combs experiences his first bowel movement and takes a nap.
1971: Surmising that his family-given nickname, Chubby-Bubby-Boody-Boo, is inconsistent with that of a ruthless, take-no-quarter entertainment mogul, Combs rebrands himself "C.B. Boody," then "C. Bubby," then, simply, "Bubby." As he would recall later: "The C was getting between me and my fans."
1974: As a kindergartener at Lincoln Elementary in Mt. Vernon, New York, Combs meets future protégé Lawrence "Big Goy" Benderspink and promotes his first commercial concert: A booger-eating one-off by Big Goy in the Lincoln Elementary sandbox. Tragically, the concert is dramatically oversold, leading to several scraped knees and scuffed Keds.
1976: Now firmly established in the Lincoln body-fluid-ingesting performance scene, Combs and Big Goy make bitter enemies with a classmate after a baseball-card shakedown in the crayon and finger-painting corner, thus triggering the legendary Lincoln sandbox/swing-set rivalry of the mid-'70s.
1977-87: Succumbing to market forces, Combs abandons nasal discharge as a profit-generating vehicle, thought he later tells a Vibe Magazine interviewer that "the booger-eating game will always be my first love . . . the one I whisper about on my death bed." Over the next decade, the ever-industrious Combs would hone his knack for promotion with a series of pre- and early-teen moneymaking ventures, including a Porky's-style pay-for-peep operation involving a schizophrenic 53-year-old ex-prostitute who offered glimpses of her pendulous, careworn breasts in a Maytag shipping container behind the Apollo.
1989: As a Howard University sophomore, Combs interns at Tzadik Records, the world's leading publisher of experimental Orthodox Jewish music. Though popular with Tzadik executives, Combs quits the internship after one semester. "Yo, John, these Zionist beats are tight," Combs tells CEO John Zorn. "But the weekend red-eyes from D.C. to Tel Aviv are killin' me. Peace out."
1990-99: Dubbing himself Puff Daddy, Combs embarks on the famously charmed career as a producer, performer and fashion designer that would make him hip-hop's wealthiest mogul with a $475 million net worth. Unbeknownst to all but his most trusted confidants, Combs also obtains his State of Connecticut real estate license, winning the "Ace Salesman: Southeast Hartford" award three years running (1996-99). "I won't diddle on your hizzle," touts his popular bus-bench ad.
2004: Hoping to repair his brand after being acquitted on gun possession and bribery charges stemming from his alleged shoot-out with rapper Shyne, the newly renamed P. Diddy spearheads a youth-focused voter drive pegged to the 2004 presidential election. Dubbed "Vote or My Pack of Dobermans Will Eat Your Face," the campaign is lustily panned on both sides of the political spectrum. Its replacement, "Vote or Die," fares only incrementally better.
2009: Father-of-five Combs — now known simply as "Diddy" — gives eldest son Justin a fully-operational, gold-plated Titan booster rocket for the boy's 15th birthday. "Get up there in space and be the first to do that zero-g thang with a shorty," Combs tells Justin.
2011: After scrapping plans to write and record a hip-hop concept album about 19th-century philosophical rivals Soren Kierkegaard and Georg Wilhelm Hegel, performed entirely in Danish, Combs goes with Plan B: Last Train to Paris, a concept album about a fanciful trip from London to Paris to regain a lost love. Lauded by Vogue editor Anna Wintour for its "lovely notes of citrus and oak " and "magisterial, almost Chanel-ian suggestion of post-classical European ennui," the album is a solid critical hit. With his Blood Money partner act in tow, Diddy embarks on a tour of mid-sized American clubs and casino showrooms. "Next year, I'm doing free trade coffee shops," he tells the crowd at Ovations Live! Showroom in Chandler.
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