The launch of VIBE was the definitive introduction of the power of Hip-Hop and culture to move the crowd. Before the Internet, before email, before social media…there was VIBE. The magazine founded by the legendary musician/producer Quincy Jones, was created on the pulse of our music, as it was riding the power of television, radio, film and fashion becoming charged with the electricity of the streets. Thus, VIBE provided the all encompassing platform to showcase the evolving genre while it solidified a firm placement in the fabric of this nation. This new culture gave rise to stars, and none shone brighter than Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. It was July of 1993, while we were moving into our new VIBE offices on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, we faced the excitement, the energy and the fear of which articles to include in our forthcoming September 1993 debut issue. The cover was easy since we were all sitting there listening to The Chronic by Dr. Dre and completely entranced by the Long Beach, California repping, sing-song delivery of Snoop Doggy Dogg, but prioritizing the contents….that would be much harder.
Scott Poulson-Bryant (Dr. Bryant now), a brilliant writer who also gave VIBE its name, spoke lucidly and clearly about an A&R Executive who was setting the entire music game on fire working at Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records. He had been working diligently on a story about Sean Combs and his groundbreaking work with Mary J. Bilge, Jodeci, Heavy D and other acts on the powerhouse label. All was good, we were hot, and the young genius known as Puff Daddy was in our first issue.
Then a confluence of tragedy and internal management struggles with the mogul Harrell led to Combs’ ouster from Uptown Records. And this led to our FIRST serious editorial decision of our young magazine’s career–”Do we keep Puffy in this issue or do we wait and see what happens with him and put him in a later issue?”
To our credit, we continued with the piece in the inaugural issue, showing Puff in his brash, bossy and shirtless glory. He soon secured a lucrative label deal with Clive Davis’ Arista Records for his own Bad Boy Records. The future for the young entrepreneur was bright, but not sparkly, as he has constantly been met with drama and severe loss during his journey. With unimaginable highs, like the platinum success of artists like Brooklyn’s The Notorious B.I.G., R&B trio Total and introducing the masses to Harlem World’s Ma$e, Combs would face the unfortunate battle of coasts with Death Row Records, the soul crushing death of The Notorious B.I.G and himself looking at serious jail time at one point.
Yet, surviving the times is what Combs does best. Not only surviving but thriving in an entertainment world that hunts you down to throw you out, he’s prospered in areas previously closed to young black executives. Defining eras from the early 90s to now, he’s stumbled and rebounded with stints in acting on Broadway and entering Hollywood’s silver screens to snatching prestigious awards in the fashion world with his Sean John clothing line. From philanthropy to politics to purified water companies, Combs has done it all…the man even ran the New York City marathon, hence the moniker “Diddy Runs The City.”
The path to over 20 years of Bad Boy Records has found Combs breaking the rules and making his own, and VIBE has been there for the whole ride. He’s been featured on six covers and a few non-Bad Boy covers, while his artists went on to rock another nine.
Puff took a pass that was played by Quincy and Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, and added a whole new direction to infuse the culture. He constantly expanded the limits of industry and commerce while innovating aggressively and creating a history making enterprise fueled by the sound and hard work that was put forth by the countless moguls he helped create and longtime partner in building Bad Boy Records, Vice President Harve Pierre.
Aside from breaking the glass ceiling of mass communication and founding a cable network in REVOLT TV, Combs is now on the brink of kicking off the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour, bringing together the acts that he introduced to the world like The Lox, Ma$e, 112, Carl Thomas, Faith and many more… He said it from the beginning, “I thought I told you that we won’t stop.”
Congratulations to Harve Pierre, the founder of REVOLT Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, and the entire Bad Boy Family. #badboy4life – Keith Clinkscales [Founding CEO of Vibe Magazine and is currently the CEO of REVOLT, the music and culture channel founded by Sean “P Diddy” Combs]