The cover was released sometime last week, and if you live in NY you’ve probably already seen the issue all over the place here. But for those that haven’t, check out a shot of the piece (above) and some of the cover story (below).
After all, Sean Combs is the most successful entrepreneur to emerge from hip-hop. He surpassed Russell Simmons back in the 1990s, when the Def Jam co-founder backed away from the music industry. Even his contemporaries, booming businessmen such as Jay-Z and 50 Cent, either lag behind or travel down a road Diddy paved. His label, Bad Boy Records, set the precedent for Roc-A-Fella’s and G-Unit’s partnerships with Def Jam (1997) and Interscope (2003), respectively, when the boutique label signed a deal with Arista/BMG back in 1993.
He was a 360 artist before the term even existed—his business was founded on hip-hop but not limited to it. “Diddy is someone who taught young artists how to turn hip-hop into an industry,” says Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, where Diddy is now signed as a solo artist, and Bad Boy is signed as a label. Under the terms of the deal, any new artist signed to Bad Boy will be distributed through Interscope, while currently signed artists (and the Bad Boy catalog) will go through Atlantic Records, where Diddy signed a deal in 2005. Besides being an entertainer, he’s a businessman. His vast empire includes Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, Sean John Clothing, Inc., Blue Flame marketing, which has counted Pepsi and Hewlett Packard as clients, and Justin Combs Publishing, which houses the songwriting credits of artists like The L.O.X. and 112. The latest, non-musical business deal, however, is with the Diageo liquor company. In 2007, Diddy entered an equal-share venture with Diageo to spearhead Cîroc vodka’s brand management. It’s been a fruitful partnership. In the second half of 2007, Diageo shipped 60,000 cases of Cîroc worldwide. That number jumped to 400,000 cases for 2008–2009.
All told, Puffy’s unconfirmed net worth is reportedly more than $350 million. It’s quite a résumé. And he knows it. “I am the champion of hip-hop,” he says. “Hands down, undisputed, I’m the undisputed heavyweight champion of hip-hop.”