“Keep your grades up, stay out of trouble, stop the violence and love each other. I’m out of here.”

In September Diddy embarked on a month-long school tour to deliver a series of “informational lectures.” I haven’t attended any of his motivational talks—and so far no industrious fifteen year-old has posted a transcript online—but from the news articles, it sounds like Diddy is feeding the kids the “stay in school/don’t do drugs/buy my album” party line. (The giant posters for Press Play all over the auditoriums are a bit of a giveaway for his motives for these pep talks, but whatever.)

The Baltimore Sun, for instance, reports that Diddy recently paid a surprise visit to seventh and eighth graders at Winston Middle School in Baltimore and told them there was no excuse for not taking responsibility for their future. “You can still kick it out on the corner with your friends, and you can still go to clubs,” he told the crowd. “But school has to be first.” (Um, what sort of clubs let pre-teens in?)

He went on to say: “When you see me on videos, with the jewelery and the money. It’s important for all of you to understand how it got to that point.”

As the Sun reporter points out, Diddy didn’t exactly amass his fortune by staying in school. In fact, he dropped out of Howard to become more involved in the music industry. I wish he had talked about that.

So often when rich, famous, ambitious people are invited to a public forum to share how they got to where they are, they have little of substance to say. I don’t know if it’s that they haven’t reflected on their journey—or if the years in between the grind and the glory have made their memories vague—but often these people don’t pass on what they’ve learned. They make it seem like success is some lucky accident. Or like it can happen to anyone that follows certain rules, like going to class.

In reality, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Particularly for people who come from poor backgrounds.

It takes years to pursue a career. It takes years of working hard, strategizing, seizing opportunities, creating opportunities, finding ways around roadblocks, casting away limiting beliefs and learning to deal with setbacks. Years of not taking the easy way out. Years of delaying gratification. Years of dingy sneakers.

Diddy—who is reportedly worth 315 million—must know all that. Dude has been relentless in his pursuit of success. He’s achieved a lot. And when he’s failed, he’s risen time and time again from the ashes. Why can’t he talk about that process?

There are so many points he could have addressed. What were his strategies for breaking into the music industry? Did he have a vision for his career? How did he stay focused? Did he set goals? Did he network? Did he live on Hamburger Helper before he got his break? What?

How did he manage to withstand the City College tragedy so early in his career? How did he bounce back from being fired at Uptown? How did he start Bad Boy? How did he cope with Big’s death? How did he deal with the trial? How has he managed to keep coming back over and over again? How did he keep hope alive during the times when his stock plummeted?

In other words: tell the kids about the come up. That’s the stuff that might actually empower them. Give them some concrete tools to achieve success. The stay-in-school-eat-your-vegetables platitudes generally go in one ear and out the other.

  • Yo

    Co-siggity.

    Fuck some Afterschool Special “Just Say No to Whatever’s in The Mr. Yuk Bag” BULLSHIT.

  • Yo

    ….first.

  • Flakker

    There’s a lot of truth in this that society at large does not want to acknowledge, because the truth about financial success, as usual, is more complicated than the back-to-basics bullshit that an ignorant populace wants to promote for their ignorant, unmotivated kids.

  • SUPERMAN

    TARA I ONLY CAME HERE BECAUSE WHEN I READ THE TITLE I THOUGHT IT MEANT “YOU” WERE LEAVING. DAMN THATS MESSED UP. CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION, WHY IS IT EVERYTIME I PUT UP A POST YOU ERASE THEM? WHAT ARE YOU TRYNA HIDE FROM THE PUBLIC? BOL DOESNT HIDE NOTHIN. HE LETS YOU TELL IT HOW IT IS. YOU ON THE OTHER HAND JUST HAS TO BE A DIMWIT. GO TO HELL!

  • Bang

    you said —–
    In fact, he dropped out of Howard to become more involved in the music industry. I wish he had talked about that.—-

    It’s probably better that he didn’t, so that the knuckleheads at least hear someone sucessful tell them to get their education. and not to mention, he was at least enrolled in a nice school, let’s not forget that. in the musci game, if you dont have anything to fall back on, it’s not smart to get in there becasue MOST wont make it. there isn’t room for everybody, seriously. school can secure them a long term job or some financial security, if they dont fuck around too much.

    as far him sharing a blueprint for what he did, I don’t think that would have been wise either. You can talk about perseverence and hard work on those surprise visits, and basically that’s what it is for the ordinary people today. as for him, I think it was money from some crime figures out on the east who helped him out when he was down, so that wouldn’t have been good to say to everybody, really. If you wanted to hear him say the truth, then he would have said “Behind every fortune lies a crime.”

    fuck that, keep the shorties in school. and keep diddy out off the tv screen with his crystal/rich boy/I need to be seen/type a bullshit. the schools should get soemone esle to speak to them. fuck that I’m out

  • thoreauly77

    diddy should have talked about how he bamboozled his “bestie” out of his masters/publishing; perhaps then the kids would know that the best way to amass a fortune is to fuck over those closest to you. oh, and to stay in school/hang out on corners/club.

  • Unscarred

    TARa your…hot…;)

  • che

    what your conveniently forgetting at certain points in this post tara, is that they are only pre-teens.

    >What were his strategies for breaking into the music industry? Did he network? How did he cope with Big’s death? How did he keep hope alive during the times when his stock plummeted?

    I think the above questions are a little deep for any 8 year old.

    what you need to understand is the fact that diddy was there at all is a huge deal to them. And you’re not really suggesting that telling kids to drop out of school is a good idea are you tara?

    I mean a lot of people drop out of school, but how many end up being worth 315 dollars, never mind 315 million.

  • Millo

    FUCK DIDDY ,PUFFY OR WHAT EVER THE FUCK HE CALLS HIM SELF!!!!

    Buy my RECORD that I did’nt write to or even do production to Diddy is a POSER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Fuck Bad Boy RECORDS!

  • Millo

    If you want to HOLLA back POOFY :

    afterlifentertainment@yahoo.com

  • rizzop2003

    Yeah tell them how he owns bigs publishing and the lox and mase and ……you get the picture. The way to get rich in the country is off of other people. You think oprah is a billionare because she didnt steal from anyone? When these people own clothing lines, who do you think makes the clothes? People making 10 cents an hour! then they go and sell jeans and shirts for 100s of dollars!

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    i dont get it…anyone

  • ROB G

    MAJOR CO SIGN TO THIS POST
    BIG UP TARA HENLEY

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    I agree with you on this, but I was scared for a minute after reading the title!

    You’re playing with our emotions, Tara!

  • Belize

    Great post..i feel the grind..iv had to go around corners my whole life..u just gotta keep trukin’ though!

  • micguevara

    Wouldn’t the fact he made it to howard be a good thing?no matter what happened thier?isn’t he teling kids to finish school and stay away from crime,the reason he talked baout his jewelery and how he got it?

  • micguevara

    “How did he manage to withstand the City College tragedy so early in his career? How did he bounce back from being fired at Uptown? How did he start Bad Boy? How did he cope with Big’s death? How did he deal with the trial? How has he managed to keep coming back over and over again? How did he keep hope alive during the times when his stock plummeted?”

    thats a bit much for them,just letting them know that crime is not the only way to make it.

  • who gives a shit

    all of xxl’s columnist need to be guest so that they will get some original shit in here. i know it’s hard to come up with good material every week so i don’t hold it against you (in fact a lot of it i like) but i know more intiguing (for you to write and us to read) topics are out there.

  • Meka Soul

    thie smells more like a “buy my album” stunt than anything. we all know sean combs doesn’t give a fuck about the kids.

  • Young A. Simmons

    Damn Tara I thought you were doing a Dj Drama for a moment there and quitting xxl.

    Nice post as per usual, Fuck Diddy though, he’s the worst kind of sneaky, backstabbing negro.

  • TARA

    C-Boys: I’m not going anywhere.

    Superman: You need to relax and take the caps lock off, my friend. And if you want your comments to stay put, stop cussing me out all the time. I’m not feeling it.

  • edwin

    Seventh- and eighth-graders are mature enough to think critically. I liked this post. Howard sucks.

  • loosenut

    So are you grindin Tara…I bet you are…This is a positive blog and yes Mr Diddy forgot how he got there…

  • twerkolator

    Some of y’all need to find out more about how music publishing works. Then you might stop saying that Diddy “bamboozled” or “stole” publishing from Biggie, The Lox, etc.

    It’s funny how music publshing is probably the most lucrative aspect of the game, yet many people (including people in the music industry) know so little about it. Go figure…

    Without going into an entire lesson on what music publishing is (research it yourself if you’re interested:
    http://www.windsweptpacific.com/
    aboutus/whatispub.asp), suffice it to say that those artists signed publishing deals with Diddy’s publishing company (Justin Combs Publishing – for those of you who read album credits). That is far from stealing.

    In short, when you sign a publishing deal the publisher pays you an advance and in return, after the advance is recouped, takes half (typically) of the royalties earned from the songs you write. Also, the publisher often (but not necessarily) acquires some portion of the ownership (i.e. the copyright) in the songs.

    I doubt if Puffy held a gun to any of his artists’ heads and forced them to sign with his publishing company. They could have self-published their songs, let Diddy’s company simply administer the songs (for a 15-20% fee), or signed with another publisher (EMI, Chrysalis, Sony-BMG, etc).

    If you listened to the last Hot 97 on-air beef between Puffy and The Lox you will see that The Lox had virtually no idea what they signed. Was it Diddy’s job to school them on music publishing? I don’t think so. That’s the job of The Lox’s lawyers, managers, advisors, etc.

    Even the Beatles, in their ill-advised and ignorant youth, signed shitty deals early on in their career. That is how MJ ended up owning (via an auction purchase) the most lucrative publishing catalog in popular music.

    To conclude, whether the publishing deals his artists signed were good or bad deals we’ll probably never know. (Suffice it to say that the publisher is always going to draft the deal in their favor and they usually have more leverage than the artist/writer). But even if they were shitty deals, that doesn’t mean Puffy bamboozled, hoodwinked, or stole anything from anyone. He probably gave them the same “nigga” deal that any other record label/music publisher would’ve given them.

    Was he morally wrong for giving Biggie a shitty deal (if, in fact it was a shitty deal) because Biggie was his ace? I’ll let y’all debate about that. Just stop saying he stole that man’s publishing.

    p.s. – sorry to be long-winded (and off-topic), but i hope this clears up some of the common misconceptions about publishing for all y’all aspiring rappers and producers. if not, please research the topic. it could mean the difference between millions of dollars and the welfare line…

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    i also thought dis wus gonna be a tara is quittin’ blog

    until i saw here mention diddy and den i thought nay hoped did was gonna be a blog where tata dissect diddy dancin’ in dat video wit da nicole ho frum pussycat dolls

  • twerkolator

    what happened to my comment tara?

  • twerkolator

    oops never mind. sorry tara…

  • e

    Nice post as usual, I thought you were gonna retire(please don’t). Despite being a pop icon P. Diddy seems to be completly disconnected with the youth which is why his vote or die campaign didn’t really catch on either.

  • http://rodneydugue.blogspot.com RD

    tara, wouldn’t you agree that it would be just as beneficial and important if some of you accomplished journalists and bloggerrs would do the same? Ok, actually I just want your next post to concentrate on your come up. cool? lol. I’d be so willing to hear it from you…

    RD

  • http://thisone Blakaznite

    Tara,
    I understand the main idea of your argument. I agree with you to some extent. I think many critics have failed to give Diddy any credit at all for making time to visit these schools. He was not obligated to do it. Perhaps it would have been helpful if Diddy spoke of the struggle and the obstacles he overcame to make it, but the fact that Diddy is Diddy and advised that they stay in school might hold some significance in their lives. He could have gone into further detail minus the extraneous questions, you suggested he ask, but I guess time restraints also played a role in his decision not to. However, teachers, but most importantly parents, must take responsiblity for educating their children/students as well instead of looking to rappers to morally guide their children.

  • SUPERMAN

    WOW TARA I DIDNT THINK YOU WERE SO SENSITIVE SHEESH! I CUSS YOU OUT BECAUSE I HATE YOUR ARTICLES. BOOORRIINGGG!!! LIKE MAN, WHEN ARE YOU GONNA COME OUT WITH SOMETHING FRESH AND ORIGINAL? THEY DONT EXACTLY SCREAM “HEADLINES!” WHO CARES ABOUT DIDDY, HES A CLOWN. BESIDES I PERSONALLY LIKE THAT NEW SONG HES GOT OUT ITS DIFFERENT. THE WHOLE DANCE THING IS WEIRD, BUT HEY IT BEATS THE SNAP DANCE AND CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP. AND STOP TELLING ME TO NOT USE CAPS IF THATS WHAT I WANNA USE I’LL USE IT. DONT BE AN OLD LADY! NOW COME OUT WITH BETTER BLOGS, THATS ALL I ASK. THANK YOU!

  • http://www.okayplayer.com Spark

    Tara i got yo back Superman is Superconstipated after what his dad did to him 4 the last 13years ya big mofo

  • RIPTHEMIC

    damn spark. you stay on supermans dick. like chill wit it nigga you actin kind of homo. be easy kid!

  • TARA

    Ripthemic = Superman

    LOL at dude defending himself under an alias. Don’t forget we have your IP.

  • http://www.myspace.com/deensekou sATaLyte

    Superman = Face Cracked

  • http://www.okayplayer.com Spark

    LOL thanks Tara holly shyte ur ko’d bitch

  • http://www.okayplayer.com Spark

    Tara Much respect.

  • SUPERMAN

    WHOA TARA DIDNT ERASE MY POST? SOMEONE CALL THE FIREMARSHALLS, SHE BROKE A CODE! HA HA! SOME PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER YOU ARE FOR RESPONDING TO GUESTS ANYWAY. SEEMS LIKE XXL HIRES ANYBODY. AFTER ALL YOU DONT NEED INTELLIGENCE TO WRITE ABOUT HIP HOP. I MEAN COME ON DIDDY? AND NOT JUST DIDDY BUT WHAT HE SPOKE ABOUT AT SOME SCHOOL. GIVE ME AN APPLICATION TO DO YOUR JOB BECAUSE THEN I’LL START TALKING ABOUT WHAT THE GUY DOES ON HIS SPARE TIME. OR HIS HOUSE. (XXL CRIBS ANYONE?) SO YOURE SAYING IM THE ONLY ONE WHO USES THE PC? THEN YOUD KNOW OUR EMAIL ADDRESSES ARE DIFFERENT. OR DO YOU? YOU HAVE MY ADDRESS AND I’VE SEEN YOUR PIC. YOU COULD OF DONE BETTER, BABE.

  • SUPERMAN

    SPARK YOU STILL AFTER ME. YOU AND THE GAME K.O RAS KASS NEED TO MAKE LOVE TO EACH OTHER FOR REAL.

  • http://www.okayplayer.com Spark

    Plain and simple fuck off and this is the last time i respond to ur corny raps yous a bitch ass nigga and try 2 b more user friendly im out and i cant hear u nomore i already ko’d ur ass ur done son.

  • RIPTHEMIC

    you know tara i thought you’d be a little more mature than that. “dont forget we have your IP.” whats next, handing out our email addresses. its one thing to retaliate or put someone in their place. its another thing to act ignorant. dont pull a bol on us. unlike superman i like your posts but please dont think our IP’S have anything to do with one other. we work at the same place thats all. it wouldnt be nice if i told you i think youre half the people in this room commending yourself now would it? thats really all i have to say. just stay positive. on another note spark, youre really a dickhead. just keep on moving son, you thirst for attention.

  • SUPERMAN

    WOW NO RESPONSE FROM YOU TATA. I MEAN TARA?
    TARA = SPARK, SATALYTE, AND EVERYONE ELSE IN HERE.
    TARA YOU STILL CRYIN YOU NEVER GOT TO INTERVIEW PAC? YOU KNOW THERES ALWAYS FAT JOE!

  • gutta

    I AGREE, I THINK THAT DIDDY COULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE BIT MORE DETAILED IN TEACHING KIDS TO TAKE THE RIGHT PATH AND GETTING AN EDUCATION BUT HONESTLY WHO WOULD LISTEN TO DIDDY FOR ADVICE ON EDUCATION AND AND STAYIN OUT OF TROUBLE?? DIDDY THE SAME DUDE THAT SMASHED STEVE STOUTE OVER THE HEAD WITH A BOTTLE BECAUSE HE KEPT THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THAT NAS VIDEO AND THE SAME DUDE THAT ROBBED EACH AND EVERY LAST ONE OF HIS ARTIST,NEW & OLD, OF THEIR PUBLISHING. I RESPECT DIDDY AND IM SURE HE HAS ALOT TO TEACH SOMEONE,BEING ALL THE THINGS HES SEEN AND BEEN THROUGH BUT I WOULD LISTEN IF HE CAME UP TO ME TALKIN BOUT STAY IN SCHOOL AND STOP THE VIOLENCE. i SEE YA HUSTLE THO KEEP DOIN YA THING

  • alleyeCNtower

    I think Tara has a point… Diddy could have said more, even if he didn’t have to get very deep into his history. These guys honestly don’t talk about the IMPORTANT DECISIONS AND HABITS that got them exactly where they are.

    Very few of these rich and powerful people tell everyone how to achieve their dreams and success, and that won’t change anytime soon.

    we can hunt down the truth on Sean Combs ourselves, ha ha

  • http://www.futilityrecords.com neoteric

    i was suprised about luda opening with 310k too! weakest launch single of his career and he does those numbers. nuuuice

  • http://www.google.com crazy bytch 1

    yall hoes is wildin out men CHILL DA FUCK OUT