Side Hustle: Sean Combs

“Killing Them Softly” Premiere – 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Sean John Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka Puffy, aka P. Diddy, aka Diddy, aka Ciroc Obama, has more revenue streams than he’s got names. He’s been in the entertainment game for parts of three decades, minting stars like The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Faith Evans and Ma$e. Rapper. Dancer. Record Producer. Label Owner. Manager. Clothing Company Owner. Liquor Brand Ambassador. Cable Channel Owner. Actor. Television & FIlm Producer. This dude’s got more gigs than Ryan Seacrest and Nick Cannon combined. Hate him or love him, the power of Diddy’s brand is undeniable. Here’s the breakdown (try to keep up!)

Producer Hustle: Back when he was simply Puff, Combs started out at Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records grooming talent and producing records for their roster which included Heavy D & The Boyz, Father MC and the upstarts Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. After separating from Uptown, he took (the then unknown) The Notorious B.I.G. and Craig Mack and started Bad Boy Records and the legend of Puff Daddy was born. Over the span of his career he’s produced records for the late Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, Sting, Brian McKnight, Usher, Britney Spears, Boyz II Men, Busta Rhymes, R. Kelly, Lil’ Kim, Shabba Ranks, Aretha Franklin, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Nick Cannon, and of course, ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, among others.

Rapper Hustle: Let’s keep it real: Out of everything Diddy does rapping is probably what he does worst. Though he’s been rapping since the early ’90s, first appearing on Super Cat’s “Dolly My Baby” remix alongside Third Eye (Jesse West) and The Notorious B.I.G, he’s only gotten marginally better since then. He’s released six albums, mostly featuring collaborations with other artists, amassing five number-one singles and five gold and platinum plaques as well as three Grammys. Not bad for a dude critiqued for subpar emcee skills and lackluster lyricism:.His response? “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” Touche, Puff.

Label Owner Hustle: Front if you want, but the list of Diddy’s musical contributions via his Bad Boy imprint are impossible to ignore. Over the years the Bad Boy roster has included: The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans, Ma$e, The LOX, Black Rob, Shyne, Total, 112, Carl Thomas, New Edition, Elephant Man, Dream, B5, 8Ball & MJG, Day 26, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, Boyz n da Hood, Danity Kane, Da Band, Diddy-Dirty Money, Cassie and Janelle Monae. His latest recruits Machine Gun Kelly, French Montana, Red Cafe and Los form his latest salvo in the Rap genre with a second Ma$e comeback (possibly) in the offing. Diddy is directly responsible for 13 gold & 27 platinum plaques, and counting. He does most of his recording out of his own studio, named Daddy’s House, of course. I thought he told you that he won’t stop.

Actor Hustle: Like his emceeing, Sean’s acting efforts have been fair-to-middling, to put it kindly. He started with Jon Favreau/Vince Vaughn comedy, Made Men. Then he tried going serious in Monster’s Ball. Luckily, he  didn’t have much to do but brood in jail while Halle Berry got it on with Billy Bob Thornton, and she walked away with an Oscar. As Walter Lee Younger in the Broadway revival and TV versions of A Raisin in the Sun, he was downright awful (inexplicably winning an NAACP Image Award). But where he did shine in over-the-top hilarity and self-parody, was playing ballistic record label owner Sergio Roma in Get Him To The Greek, opposite Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. Look for him in the upcoming heist film Shoedog, adapted from crime writer George Pelicanos’ novel. Take that, take that.

Television & Film Producer Hustle: Diddy’s transition to film and TV was inevitable and predictably derivative. He gave us the infamous Making of The Band Seasons 2-4 (Junior’s Cheesecake, anyone?) and the Making His Band, Starmaker and I Want To Work For Diddy reality retreads; P. Diddy Presents The Bad Boys of Comedy bit directly off Def Comedy Jam. Film-wise, he has fared much better with the B.I.G. biopic, Notorious, and executive produced A Raisin in the Sun for TV. He also EPed the 2011 Academy-Award winning documentary, Undefeated. Diddy didn’t receive an Oscar; he served as the film’s financier.

Clothing and Fragrance Company Hustle: His flagship label Sean John has grown from an upstart label to grossing over $132 million in revenue (fiscal year 2006). The label won a Council of Fashion Designers of America Male Designer of The Year Award in 2004. Diddy also bought a 50% stake in Zac Posen’s high end design line and purchased Enyce from Liz Claiborne for $20 million. Sean John also produces several fragrances for men and women, with the men’s I Am King being the latest. Sean John has secured the largest billboard advertising in TImes Square, reinforcing the idea that Diddy is living larger than ever.

Liquor Brand Ambassador Hustle: When French vodka brand Ciroc wanted to increase its presence in the US urban marketplace in 2007, Combs became the Brand Ambassador in exchange for a share of the profits. He immediately declared Ciroc “the Vodka of The New Year” for the upcoming New Year’s Eve festivities. Circo commercials evoke the Brat Pack Vegas cool, replete with Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be A Lady” as the soundtrack. Different from other celebrities who merely endorse liquor brands (Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, etc), Diddy is a “true partner,” meaning he splits the company’s profits; and if Ciroc ever sells the company, Diddy’d get half. How large is Diddy’s influence? Pre-Diddy, Ciroc moved about 60,000 cases of vodka a year. In 2012? A reported ONE million cases. At $30 per bottle, 12 bottles in a case? You do the math. Ciroc Obama indeed.

Manager Hustle: For much of his career, Diddy’s managed most of the artists on his record label. (Uh, can you say conflict of interest?) But the Ciroc partnership has provided him with so much money that Diddy can do almost anything Diddy wants, including a Ciroc Entertainment company that he owns and operates. So now, not only does Diddy manage some of the hottest rappers out–Rick Ross, Fabolous, Nikki Minaj (briefly), French Montana, Red Cafe and Meek Mill — but he’s also signed up the DJs who rule radio airwaves and in clubs across the nation (Bigg Tigger, DJ Khaled, DJ Drama, Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue, DJ Prostyle, DJ Infamous,etc) as part of his Ciroc Boyz clique.

Cable Television Network Hustle: Diddy’s latest venture is a music cable network called Revolt. It aims to return music television programming back to a time when the programming was actually centered on music instead of reality show programming (VH1, MTV and BET all rely heavily on reality show programming). Set to launch in 2013, Diddy’s Revolt will also feature lifestyle programming and have a strong social media component, as he proceeds to give you what he thinks you need.

Advertising/Marketing and Technology Hustle: Diddy owns and operates the Blue Flame Agency, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm that labels itself as “the new standard in lifestyle brand integration”. To date, Blue Flame’s client list includes Universal Pictures, Guinness, Fox Searchlight and New York’s Creative Week. Bad Boy Technologies primarily serves as DIddy’s online arm producing his BadBoyonline.com and DiddyBlog.com, giving patrons and tastemakers an up to date glimpse of Diddy’s happenings and goings-on.

Charitable Hustle: Diddy ran the New York City Marathon in 2003 and raised over $4 million for The New York State Department of Public Education. He runs a “hot pink slip charity” via his Sean John for Cancer Awareness campaign, runs Daddy’s House Social Programs out of the Harlem YMCA and supports numerous other efforts (ONE, i.am.scholarship, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Usher’s New Look Foundation) to effect economic and social change. 

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