Businessman, musician, actor, talent scout, producer – there seems to be no end to the things that Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs has tried his hand at over the years. Even more incredible is that he’s been successful in almost all of them. Rising to the forefront of hip-hop during the ’90s, Combs has remained in the public eye ever since. After adopting many different aliases during his career, in 2017 he’s changing his name again – and you won’t believe the moniker he goes by now…
Few hip-hop artists can boast the same worldwide success as music entrepreneur Sean Combs. Although he came to prominence for his business savvy in the music industry, the infamous bad boy of hip-hop also struck upon winning formulas in other areas. And it’s this eclecticism that epitomizes his tireless work ethic.
Born Shaun John Combs in 1969, the New York native proved that he had the smarts early on his life. He studied business administration at Howard University, before landing a job with Uptown Records. However, after becoming a vice-president at the label, as well as bringing in a number of talented artists, Combs decided that it was time to move on.
And in 1993 Bad Boy Entertainment was born. The production company quickly made Combs even more highly sought after in the hip-hop world, with the likes of Faith Evans, 112 and, most famously, the influential rapper Biggie Smalls all signing with Combs’ label.
By the time 1997 rolled around, Combs had turned his record company into a monumental success. It was also a difficult time for him, however, mainly due to the death of his friend Biggie Smalls. The rapper, better known as Notorious B.I.G, was killed in a drive-by shooting in March of that year, just a few months before Combs released his debut album No Way Out.
Yet despite its tragic genesis, the record scooped up the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1998. For the first time, it was clear that Combs was just as comfortable with a mic in his hand as he was in the producer’s chair. And just like that, he was now a bona-fide music artist in his own right.
Since then, Combs hasn’t looked back. He’s continued with his musical endeavors, while also venturing into other areas. For instance, Combs has landed acting roles in the likes of Made, Monster’s Ball and Get Him to the Greek. He has branched out into the world of reality television as well with shows such as Making the Band and P. Diddy’s Starmaker, and even started his own cable channel named REVOLT.
Another issue that has brought him plenty of publicity is the confusing matter of his name. Because despite being born Sean John Combs, the entrepreneur has altered it many times in the past. Not once, not twice, not even thrice, but so often in fact that even he seems to have difficulty keeping track.
He was originally nicknamed “Puffy” at school because he always puffed his chest out. And this led him to adopt the moniker of “Puff Daddy” in the early ’90s. Then in 2001 he changed it to “P. Diddy,” which was the name that long-time compatriot Biggie Smalls had called him by.
He subsequently shortened this to “Diddy” in 2005, before returning to his roots in 2008 with “Sean John,” which are his real first and middle names. However, in 2012 he would go back to a more out-there title yet again, this time calling himself “Swag,” albeit for just one week.
Finally, in 2014 he reverted back to “Puff Daddy,” bizarrely claiming that his name had never changed. He took to Twitter to state, “For the record, I did not change my name. I always have been and always will be PUFF DADDY!” It seemed that he’d now come full circle, but just recently he revealed yet another shocking name change…
In November 2017 the hip-hop mogul celebrated his 48th birthday by announcing a further identity change. Incredibly, he is now to be referred to as “Brother Love.” He made the announcement to his Twitter followers, with a post and video attempting to explain the bewildering decision.
He started the video off by saying, “Hey y’all. I have some very serious, serious news. I’ve been praying on this. I decided that – I know it’s risky, and I know it’s corny to some people – but I decided to change my name again.”
“I’m just not who I am before. I’m something different,” Combs continued. “So my new name is Love aka Brother Love. I will not be answering to Puffy, Diddy, Puff Daddy or any of my other monikers but Love or Brother Love.”
And despite his numerous name changes in the past, this one still probably stands out as the most bombastic. It seems that his name alterations are not only intended to mark a new evolution in his career, but are also a way to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack – a mentality that by all accounts stems back to his childhood.
“I’ve had different name changes because I only just grew up in a neighborhood where everybody had nicknames,” he told CNN in 2016. “My first nickname was Puffy, and then when I was in the music industry it went to Diddy. And then P. Diddy. Or was it P. Diddy first? Then Diddy?”
It’s hard to blame him for being confused about his alter egos, though, when they’re as numerous as his are. “I have different personalities, you know what I’m saying?” he admitted in the same interview. “I have a lot of different… Nobody knows who’s coming downstairs in the morning.”
And for pretty much his whole life, Sean Combs – or should I say “Brother Love” – has tapped into his multiple personalities. It seems that he did so even before his rise in the music business, in fact. But has he finally found one that he’ll be happy to stick with for quite some time?
Well, his past has shown us that Combs tends to change it to coincide with the next big step in his career. And with the sequel to his debut album No Way Out slated for release in the near future, it could prove to be the perfect time to switch things up in the name department for the umpteenth time.
The rapper Gizzle, who’s collaborating with Combs on the record, told Rap-Up in 2015, “The mind-set is to just be classic and to be epic. And to really live up to that… we know it’s a tall order, but we welcome the challenge.” And if its predecessor is anything to go by, then No Way Out 2 is sure to be a hit when it finally drops.
“Puff Daddy,” “P. Diddy,” “Swag,” “Brother Love”… whatever you want to call him, the fact remains that he’s still one of the most influential and successful figures in the music business. And while his name may have changed from time to time, his impact on hip-hop certainly never has.