Sean “Diddy” Combs made an unprecedented move Monday to reassign his music publishing rights back to Bad Boy artists like the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans and Mase who made Bad Boy Records the music industry juggernaut it is today.
The development, first reported by Billboard, was a process that reportedly began in 2021 as the rapper and producer was turning down acquisition offers for the entire Bad Boy catalogue outright. Most Bad Boy artists have agreed to the deal, the details of which are largely being kept under wraps.
This year also marks the label’s 30th anniversary.
The deal comes three years after Mase claimed he offered Combs $2 million to buy back his own publishing rights but was denied. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Mase wrote in 2020 around the time Combs received the Industry Icon award at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala, “Your past business practices knowingly has continued purposely starved your artist and been extremely unfair to the very same artist that helped u obtain that Icon Award on the iconic Badboy label.”
He continued: “For example, u still got my publishing from 24 years ago in which u gave me $20k. Which makes me never want to work w/ u as any artist wouldn’t… This is not Black excellence at all.”
Looking to Bad Boy Records’ early days, the label broke big soon after its launch in 1994. Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear” went straight to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs and broke into the Top 10 on the pop charts. Combs followed up that hit song with the near-immediate classic “Juicy” from the Notorious B.I.G.
Combs then added artists like Evans, Total and 112, all of whom scored hits for the brand. The label produced everything in-house and came up with a number of creative marketing tactics that each succeeded in pushing its visibility further. Other standout artists over the years have included Carl Thomas, Shyne, Dream, Danity Kane and French Montana.
So perhaps Combs’ decision to reassign the music rights of Bad Boy Records is the mogul’s way of making amends with artists like Mase who helped build him up — or maybe it is the idea of a shrewd businessman who sees yet another way to land on top. But as the man himself told the graduating class of Howard University in 2014: “Some of my biggest successes come from some of my biggest failures. I had two choices: Either I was going to sit in that failure and give up, or I was going to make a decision and step out of the darkness.”
Combs has a new album, “The L.O.V.E. Album: Off the Grid,” dropping Sept. 15.