The rap impresario who turned the Notorious BIG into a global star in the 90s and worked with era-defining female rappers has been accused of rape and physical abuse by a former partner
Sean Combs AKA Puff Daddy, P Diddy and Diddy may be one of the most recognisable figures in the historically male-dominated genre of hip-hop, but he also made his name by working with numerous female artists including Lil Kim, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige – and singer Cassie Ventura, who launched her singing career with his label Bad Boy Records in 2006 and was in a relationship with Combs from 2007 to 2018. This week she has accused him of rape and severe physical abuse during their relationship, allegations he has denied.
A man of many guises as well as names – rapper, impresario, entrepreneur, actor and fashion designer – the Harlem-born 54-year-old was a talent director at Uptown Records before he started production company/label Bad Boy Entertainment in 1993. Combs and Bad Boy turned the street rapper Christopher Wallace – AKA Biggie Smalls or the Notorious BIG – into a huge star. Then, amid a fierce rivalry between east coast-based Bad Boy and Suge Knight’s west coast label Death Row, unidentified assailants murdered the latter’s Tupac Shakur (in 1996) and then Wallace (in 1997). Combs and singer Faith Evans, Wallace’s widow, recorded the tribute I’ll Be Missing You about his protege. The song topped the US chart for 11 weeks, rocketing the first Puff Daddy album No Way Out to seven-times platinum status and Combs into hip-hop’s commercial stratosphere.