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RU - An apology to Diddy

Bitching about Diddy was a sport for many during the height of his choke-hold on the New York rap game, which included him being awarded the title of Greatest Hip-Hop Producer of all time in The Source magazine. In what might best be described as the Jiggy vs. Jansport Wars, Puffy’s chart dominance in the late ’90s led to a succession of grumblings on wax, courtesy of grumpy rappers such as De La Soul, Jeru The Damaja, Black Star and K-Otix, who fired back with Stakes Is High, One Day, Children’s Story and 7 MC’s, Pt. 2 respectively. The fact that was lost on these rap Grinches was the concept that Puff was simply continuing the time-honoured tradition of stunted-out Harlem party rap. Don’t get me wrong – he’s been responsible for some truly awful musical atrocities (namely I’ll Be Missing You, Come With Me and convincing The LOX to make a song called If You Think I’m Jiggy), but he’s also given us indisputable classics like It’s All About The Benjamins, Victory, Young G’s and Bad Boy For Life from his own catalogue.

Let’s not forget that before he milked Biggie’s corpse for two albums worth of “remakes”, he was instrumental in guiding the late Christopher Wallace towards his throne as the King of New York, a title he wouldn’t have achieved if he’d stuck to his Hoody Rap roots, and would later assemble a supreme team of co-conspirators for his third album, which included the talents of Black Rob and G-Dep and state-of-the-art production. As a producer, for every unnecessary, cynical beat jack (The Message on Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down) he gave us an inspired throwback (Droppin’ Science for the Hip-Hop Mix of One More Chance), not to mention he helped popularise the Grandmaster Vic / Ron G blend tape sound into modern R&B through his work on Mary J. Blige’s influential What’s The 411? album.

Sean isn’t afraid to flex his acting chops either, as witnessed by his portrayal of Harlem kingpin Hollywood Nicky in the slapstick comedy Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power, or as record mogul Sergio Roma in the crime drama Get Him To The Greek. He also stunted to def on his Making The Band series, which forever immortalised Junior’s cheesecake, and it was revealed that he suffered from a severe fear of clowns (coulrophobia) when he insisted that the producers of Fear Factor sign a ‘no clowns’ clause before his appearance in 2001. He’s also no stranger to that thug life, having been involved in beating the brakes off of several music industry characters, including Nas’ manager Steve Stoute, plus that time he let Shyne do the time over that nightclub shooting when he was all cozy with ya girl J-Lo. The Roots’ drummer Questlove also admitted that he almost caught a bad one from Puff and his Goonies after an over-enthusiastic reaction to an anti Bad Boy performance from Mos Def.

Before this turns into a Sean Combs ‘puff’ piece (see what I did there?), let’s get back to the topic at hand. Celebrating rap as party music that celebrates the excesses of life actually gave New York hip-hop the shot in the arm it needed as it struggled to remain relevant on a national level as it became increasingly self-indulgent and dry. The so-called ‘cure’ to the ‘poison’ of Shiny Suit Rap that gave us Rawkus and the Lyricist Lounge was largely hollow and humourless, with a few rare exceptions such as MF Doom, Sir Menalik and Company Flow (if you’re into that sort of thing). Diddy, please allow me to extend a sincere apology on behalf of all the crunchy, granola bar–eating, backpack-sporting jerks who have littered hip-hop message boards and blogs over the years. You realised that great rap is, in the immortal words of Slaughterhouse manager Mike Heron, all about “bitches, nice cars and clothes”. Stay jiggnorant.

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.