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Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 07:11 GMT
Puff Daddy's life of rhyme
Puff Daddy
Puffy's colourful career put him again in the spotlight
Sean "Puffy" Combs is one of the most influential men on the rap scene, but trouble has dogged him throughout his career.

The flamboyant character, who also goes under the stage name Puff Daddy, has found fame and fortune from the world of rap music.

A high-profile relationship with actress and singer Jennifer Lopez secured him tabloid coverage before he was indicted on gun charges.

The glamorous couple only revealed their split after 17 months, part way through the trial after she had told the world she was going to stick by her man.

Controversy, murder and guns feature heavily in the history of the rapper's life, from the deaths of family members and friends to music industry rivals.

Bad Boy

The first tragedy he had to deal with was the death of his father Melvin, shot on the streets of Harlem, New York, when Combs was just three years old.

Following his father's death, he and his mother Janice continued to live in Harlem.
Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez
The golden couple split during the trial

Combs was sent to a boys' private school before going on to study at Howard University.

It was here he developed his entrepreneurial skills by organising and promoting house parties, before dropping out of education altogether.

His potential was spotted by the boss of Uptown Records, Andre Harrell, who took him under his wing and taught him the ropes.

Combs' junior role in the company did not last long and he was promoted to vice president of promotion for his successes with the likes of Jodeci and Mary J Blige.


His climb up the corporate ladder was marred by a tragedy in 1991 when he organised a celebrity basketball match.

The event ended with the deaths of nine people after chaos and fighting broke out in the overcrowded auditorium.

Combs was blamed for deaths by the authorities because of a lack of security and poor organisation.

But it did not affect the influence he was having on the rap world and he launched his own Bad Boy record label.

His most high-profile discovery was Biggie Smalls, aka the Notorious B.I.G, a one-time drug dealer.

Harrell at Uptown could see how big his protégé had become and promptly fired him.

Number one hits followed for Combs' own stable.

It was becoming clear though that a new kind of turf war was emerging.

Suge Knight and Death Row Records were another successful record company, creating stars out of Tupac Shakur, Dr Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg.


Although Knight and Combs started out as friends the cracks soon started to show.

When Shakur was wounded by a gunshot in 1994 and another of Knight's friends was killed, suspicion fell in the direction of Combs and his entourage.
Puff Daddy's clothes label
Extravagant style from the Sean John label

Tupac was then shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996.

The following year the Notorious B.I.G also fell victim to a gunshot while out with Combs.

A devastated Combs released I'll Be Missing You, featuring B.I.G's widow Faith Evans, which went to number one around the world.

As well as releasing solo material, he has lent his name and production skills to a host of artists such as Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and LL Cool J.

Knight is currently serving a nine-year jail term for violating his probation for beating up two rappers back in 1996.

He has said his rival Combs should not be put behind bars.

Combs' empire now stretches beyond music with his expansion into the fashion world.

He was often seen at catwalk shows in the world's fashion capitals before launching his own label, Sean John.

See also:

17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Puff Daddy found not guilty
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Puffy: The road to innocence
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Lopez stays out of witness box
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
The making of America's hippest couple
13 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Final arguments in Puffy trial
16 Feb 01 | Americas
Puffy 'offered driver a bribe'
01 Feb 01 | Americas
Puff Daddy 'never carried gun'
14 Jan 00 | Entertainment
'Puffy' hires OJ's lawyer
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Profile: From street to stardom
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