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“I met him when he was Puffy.” - Clive Davis
A man of many names, one thing has remained steadfast: Sean Love Combs has fulfilled goals and dreams while remaining true to form. This was the consensus on Saturday evening (Jan. 25), when the media mogul accepted the Salute to Industry Icon Award at the Pre-Grammy Gala sponsored by The Recording Academy and music industry veteran Clive Davis.
At the Beverly Hilton, 332 tables were filled with family, friends, peers, media professionals, record label giants, entertainers and more who’s who in town for Sunday's Grammy Awards (Jan. 26). On the main stage, the musical melting pot of the room was represented by legacy acts like Carlos Santana, Cyndi Lauper, Beck, Wyclef Jean, Oscar-nominated actress Cynthia Ervio (who performed a tribute to Janet Jackson in honor of Rhythm Nation turning 30), Miguel, Khalid, Chance the Rapper, Brandi Carlile, and John Legend.
Touching various genres throughout his decade-spanning year, it’s only fitting that the musical acts represented the modes of sound that Combs has touched. From Rock N’ Roll to hip-hop to R&B to even professing his admiration for country music, the multi-hyphenate affirmed that his limit within the industry would know no constraint. To take a trip down memory lane with the artists he's worked with down to his son King Combs' performance of "I'll Be Missing You," artists like Faith Evans, Carl Thomas, and Lil' Kim paid homage in song to the mogul.
“When people ask me did you ever know you’d get to a certain point, I always tell them yes but I never thought that I would get to this point right here where my peers would honor me, show me this love,” he said. At five years old, an unsuspecting Combs would soon realize that a “plastic record player” in place of a coveted bike would change the course of his life. After "20,000" spins of James Brown’s “I Got Ants In My Pants,” Combs planted the seed that would become a fruitful impact on the music industry.
Although the 50-year-old said he had dreams of playing in the NFL, a broken leg snapped his ambitions and led him to Howard University where he met his longtime business partner Harve Pierre and Mark Pitts (RCA's president of urban music). Keeping in mind his love for music and wanting to become a record executive from witnessing how label owners carried themselves similar to drug dealers from his neighborhood, Combs began the long road to success.
While the tribute was in his honor, Combs turned his attention to Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Records and the company where Combs entered the industry as an ambitious young adult to then being given the tools to strike iron while it’s hot on his own. “I’m only standing up here because you gave me the chance, you gave me the opportunity,” Combs said. “But most importantly what we all have to do, as a black man you took me underneath your wing. He was patient with me. You taught me, you talked to me, you taught me about the game and you taught me what it was to become a record man.”
Then Combs studied the blueprint that was mapped out by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. When Combs viewed Mahogany, which was directed by Gordy, he understood the lanes outside of music that can allow one to make a global influence, “and the value and importance of black culture and the importance it was going to have on the world.” In Gordy's recognition, Combs referred to him as a unicorn who “empowered me at another level.”
From that moment on, Combs established Bad Boy Records while still working at Uptown but was fired by Harrell for his hot-head antics around the office. Facing a roadblock, Combs phoned record exec L.A. Reid where they both expressed their frustration with that point in their career. Taking a trip down to Atlanta, Reid and famed record producer Dallas Austin introduced Combs to Clive Davis after he expressed establishing his own label. The rest is still history in the making.
With these accolades under his belt, Combs now sets his vision on revamping the Grammys’ image pertaining to hip-hop and music rooted in black culture. The three-time Grammy Award winner stated the entity treats the genre as if it’s not responsible for some of music’s greatest moments and innovations. “Hip-hop is going to go down in history as the culture that said, ‘We need to own our sh*t,” Combs asserted. “And for me it led to great success. It gave me the chance to do Ciroc, Sean John, Revolt, open three charter schools in New York.”
He then continued to point his message at the Recording Academy by calling out their neglect of the genre. “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be,” he said. “So right now in this current situation, it is not a revelation. This thing’s been going on. It’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film, it's going on in sports, it's going on around the world. And for years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us. And that stops right now.”
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While accepting the Industry Icon Award, Sean @diddy Combs called out the Recording Academy and urged artists to take back their power. “Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys. Black music has never been respected by the Grammys,” he said before dedicating his award to classic black albums that never won a Grammy. They include #Beyonce (Lemonade) @missymisdemeanorelliott (Da Real World) Nas (Illmatic) and @snoopdogg (Doggystyle). 🎥: @desire_renee
Combs called on his peers in the room to help make that change and understand the olympic-size swimming pool of power that artists have to take control and revamp a longstanding tradition. He also dedicated his award to albums that deserved the Grammys' highest honors: Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, Prince's 1999, Beyoncé's Lemonade, Missy Elliott's The Real World, Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle, Kanye West's Graduation, and Nas' Illmatic.
The mind that can’t stop, won’t stop poses one question, especially with his mission for the Grammys in consideration: what will his next move be?
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Ayesha Curry has teamed up with Google Assistant to share a hearty recipe or two for the chef in you.
To celebrate their partnership, the entrepreneur and mother of three made an appearance at Google's Friendsgiving event in New York City SoHo district on Thursday night (Nov. 14). Before starting a cooking demo, Curry talked about her love for cooking, the importance of family sitting around the table for a meal, and how Google Assistant has helped make her life easier.
"I think it's great because I can walk into my kitchen, child in hand while making a bottle, and ask what the rest of my day looks like. I can just say, 'Hey Google, what does the rest of my day look like' and it'll pull up my whole schedule and it's just one extra peace of mind because I didn't have to do anything tangible. It's effortless... It's like a digital version of a cookbook with how-tos, timers, everything in one and it can truly be integrated into your kitchen."
After using Google Assistant to playfully cue the Kids Bop version of "Truth Hurts," Ayesha whipped up her new Fall Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Apples recipe on a cast iron enamel skillet from her cookware collection. Not only did the device give step-by-step instructions, but it also provided her with alternative ingredients for one of the ingredients.
"With this recipe, you'll see it's super easy, it's fool-proof. Baking is so scientific, this [recipe] is not that. That's what I love about it."
After serving the cooked bread pudding to the audience, the Seasoned Life author talked about her upcoming cookbook in collaboration with one of her sisters and what people can expect.
"It's going to packed, full of flavor. The realistic nature of this [cooking mother] situation is that unless I'm writing a cookbook and developing recipes, I'm not cooking every night at home. That's just not realistic. We all have jobs, we all have things we're taking care of, but I'm always trying to get a meal on the table.
"So that's what this new book is really going to be about. It's going to be about quick, simple, easy ways [to cook]. I tried to keep everything 30 minutes or less, but it's packed and full of flavor."
Ayesha Curry's Fall Bread Pudding recipe can be found exclusively on any Google Nest device. If you're a Google Assistant users, simply say "Hey Google, show me Ayesha Curry's fall bread pudding recipe" and you'll have a sweet and savory dessert for your Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) dinner.
Billboard and VIBE joined forces for the second annual R&B and Hip-Hop Power Players event on Thursday night (October 17). Held at New York City's Union City, the brands honored the 100 accomplished music executives, agents and more who made the third annual list for their outstanding contributions of driving, influencing and guiding the music industry and hip-hop culture today.
Billboard Executive Director of R&B/Hip-Hop Gail Mitchell and VP of Culture Media/VIBE Editor-in-Chief Datwon Thomas greeted guests at the invite-only reception saying, "Big shout to the team that puts this together, we just want everyone to know that this is a night of celebration. A lot of people have been working in the game for a long time - you are here tonight so you are all winning." He added, "We thank you for taking the time to celebrate your colleagues."
Shortly after, the hosts presented Steve Pamon with the Billboard Executives of the Year Award shared with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. As he accepted his award, the Parkwood Chief Operating Officer delivered a speech saying, “This award was given to myself and Beyoncé, but the award truly belongs to the team behind me. We live off respect and responsibility. A sincere thank you.” He went on to say, “We live off of respect and the responsibility of being around all of you. You are hip-hop. We are hip-hop. It’s not about us. It’s about us all.”
The late Nipsey Hussle was honored with the Billboard Impact Award for his contributions to breaking barriers of cultural appropriation, young professionals seeking educational resources in science, tech and mathematics spaces, and positivity in his community. Prior to Marathon Agency co-founder, Steve Carless, acceptance of the world on Hussle's behalf, there was a 30-second moment of silence.
In his emotional yet encouraging speech, Carless said, “I accept this on behalf of Nipsey, his family, and all his loved ones and his children. What this means to me, it’s a testament to his hard work and dedication." He added, "Congrats to everyone who made this year. It’s a huge honor...One thing I do want to say it, this award is about inspiration. Responsibility is to uplift each other mentor each other and lead each other. May all of us leave here and know we have a responsibility.”
As attendees enjoyed beverages and captured Instagram-worthy images at the Billboard and VIBE cover-inspired installations, rappers Casanova and Young M.A hit the stage, respectively, to perform their popular singles. Flip through photos and interviews from Thursday night's event down below.