By Sonia Murray Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Sonia Murray has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Essence and Vibe; appeared on VH1's "Behind The Music" and "E! True Hollywood Story"; and attended Howard University with Sean "Diddy" Combs.
He started out humble enough to cater to the stars – be it the neighborhood paper boy (whom he persuaded to hand down a popular route for a percentage of his earnings); burgeoning pop-rock stars the Fine Young Cannibals and R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw (for whom he danced in music videos); or future music mogul Andre Harrell (with whom he interned at Uptown Records).
Now some two decades into this, all of entertainment seems to orbit around Sean “Diddy“ Combs.
The Bad Boy Record label he launched with Craig Mack and hip-hop icon Notorious B.I.G. in the early ’90s now includes the soulfully electric Janelle Monae and respected emcee Red Café on its roster. Interscope Records - home to The Black-Eyed Peas, Eminem and 50 Cent - inked a lucrative deal to distribute Combs’ imprint. And his new band Dirty Money is set to close the year with the release of its long-awaited album, Last Train to Paris.
And what’s the best way to hear Combs’ new disc? Through his new “Diddybeats,” of course. He joined with Dr. Dre's Beats By Dr. Dre headphones to craft the ear-buds. His fashion label Sean John (his first and middle name) now has an exclusive distribution deal with Macy's department stores. (Where he also sells his popular scents Unforgiveable and I Am King). And he has also expanded his ongoing deal with liquor giant Diageo for Ciroc vodka.
Little wonder Forbes magazine ranked him No. 2 on its "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list this year, earning an estimated $30 million. BET Honors took note of the Grammy-winner as well, giving him the 2010 Entrepreneur Award. And there he was again at the MTV Movie Awards, promoting his appearance in the hit comedy Get Him To the Greek.
Not that he’s given up on his earlier role of supporter. Combs has been a mentor figure to one of rap’s most-buzzed-about artists, Nicki Minaj. He took part in a benefit concert with fellow superstar Justin Timberlake to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children; and he headlined a benefit for the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.