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Is Diddy losing his edge?

Remember that scene towards the end of the movie Casino, where the fat, aging Joe Pesci had to punch a guy like three times just to knock him out? Of course you do. Hip-hop heads are obsessed with gangster movies, even shitty ones, like Scarface.

That scene in Casino is ridonkulous, in the sense Joe Pesci probably couldn’t knock anyone out in 10 punches, let alone three. Even in his youth, he’d probably have to stand on a milk crate to hit a decent sized guy, and he must have been upwards of 60 when Casino was made. It’s a testament to his skill as an actor that that scene resonates with me to this day. I think about it, whenever I see an old man who’s just not as strong as he used to be.

Case in point: Diddy.

I’ve gone on record, on this site and elsewhere, as saying that Diddy is my favorite hip-hop mogul, even though he doesn’t seem to possess a talent for anything other than dancing. He took Bad Boy records from having umpteen #1 singles in a row, and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to not having any artists anyone could even name, in no time at all, once his one good artist bit the dust. In the past 10 years, he’s been known more for jerking artists than for making hits.

But I could respect him for having the proverbial tenacity of a cockroach. Year in and year out, he’s making as much money as damn near anyone in hip-hop, just from forcing the Lox to sign over their advances from other labels, exploiting Biggie’s corpse, making black people look stupid on reality TV, shilling for alcohol companies, so on and so forth. As my old man would always tell me, if you can’t be good, be good at it. (Is it any wonder I ended up in this line of work?)

Lately though, I’ve started to worry about Diddy. A few weeks ago, I read on Combat Jack’s blog that the Bad Boy Records we’ve come to know and love has ceased to exist. In moving the label from wherever it had been to Interscope (oddly enough, 2Pac’s old label), the old offices were shuttered and the entire staff was let go. This got swept under rug, probably because most people never really understood the nature of Bad Boy Records in the first place. Because there was a black guy in charge, of course it was thought of as a vanity label. But for its first 15 years or so, it was a vanity label with an actual staff. And I guess it’s now been reduced to something along the lines of a rubber stamp.

I know Diddy’s planning to unleash that Last Train to Paris album he’s been threatening to hurt our ears with on the new, even more vain Bad Boy, but I wonder if there will be any other artists. This might have been as good a time as any to bring Pastor Ma$e out of retirement, since, from what I understand, he was still contractually obligated to Diddy until just now. The other day, there was apparently a video of him bumrushing Diddy at a radio station in Atlanta and forcing him to sign a release – similar to how Suge Knight used to get people to sign contracts, but with less violence and more homoerotic laying of guilt trips. I remember Ma$e was rolling with G-Unit, around the time I started blogging for this site, but he must not have been able to release an album with them, because of his situation with Bad Boy.

If Fiddy Cent couldn’t squeeze any money out of Pastor Ma$e in 2005, there’s probably not much Diddy could do with him today. And Ma$e’s contractual obligation to Diddy might have been more or less moot anyway, given the current state of Bad Boy Records. If you’re signed to a label, and that label, for all intents and purposes, went out of business, you should be free to go about your business. For all we know, a talented enough Jew could have extricated Pastor Ma$e from Diddy’s tentacles a long time ago. Still, if I were Diddy, I wouldn’t have capitulated to Pastor Ma$e live on the radio. I don’t care if he had a point, and if he doesn’t stand to make any real money anyway, it just doesn’t project strength. If there isn’t a rule in 50 Cent’s The 50th Law stating that, whenever confronted in a legal dispute live on the radio with someone who was once caught cruising for tranny hookers, immediately change the topic of the conversation to the fact that he was once caught cruising for tranny hookers, there should be. That’s good advice.

Similarly, I couldn’t help but think Diddy played himself having the entire audience of 106 & Park stopped and frisked, to try to find his $25,000 ring. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have a problem with him trying to get his jewelry back from a buncha thieving-ass niggas. This is why black people can’t have nice things. Diddy tried to do something nice for those kids, paying a visit to 106 & Park. He even tossed out a few dollar bills. I’m sure a few of those kids needed that money to buy hair gel and ramen noodles. And how did they repay him? They stole his shit. I’m less concerned with the fact that Diddy tried to get his shit back than the fact that he didn’t. If he really needed that ring back (this is a recession), he should have locked down the studio and had a private security firm – Blackwater or somebody – come in and look in people’s assholes. As long as it didn’t cost $25,000, it would have been worth. Otherwise, he should have announced to the crowd that he dropped a $25,000 ring, the he knew one of those thieving ninjas stole it, and that he didn’t give a shit, because he’s Diddy and he can easily buy another.

Something tells me that the Diddy of 10 years ago would have done just that.

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