“What y’all think I can’t play no ball?,” Puffy challenges NBA All-Star guard Ray Allen as he streaks down the court. Wearing prototype black and white Reeboks, long Nike shorts, and gripping a basketball tightly in his hands, Puff has been trying to get a game with this group of young stars for the past 20 minutes. Allen, whose skills on the court are easily worth more than a million dollars a year, finishes his move to the hoop and turns to PD smiling. “What you say, yo?”
“I got next” Puffy says determinedly, purposefully bumping into Allen as he makes his own much less graceful move to the basket.
Obviously, even in a game that’s not his own, Sean “Puffy” Combs, CEO, featured artist, and lead producer of the world’s most successful record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, is out to beat the best of them. And even here, on the ball court, Puff shows the competitive fire that has made him, at 26 years old, the largest player in the music business.
Then following some ironic rule of karma, even if Sean Combs ever loses, Mr. Andre Harrell seems to always be around for him to beat up on.
“Yo Dre, let’s go one-on-one,” Puff says to his former mentor after losing on the NBA court. Harrell, who is resting his K-Swiss’ sneakers against the far wall of the gym in the main arena of Chelsea Piers, a huge sports complex in lower Manhattan, looks up at the kid whose career has been so tied to his own.
“One second, Puff.”
In 1990, Harrell hired Combs as an intern at his record label, Uptown Records. At the time, Uptown was a relatively successful wing of MCA, doing well with acts like Father MC and Heavy D. Three years later, Puffy, after being fired by Harrell, brokered a deal for his own record label with Arista mogul Clive Davis, based on the stunning success of two of the Uptown artists, Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. Soon after, Harrell was given a huge budget to run the legendary Motown Records, also partly based on the strength of Jodeci and Mary.
Harrell’s task was to rejuvenate the legendary label, and bridge the gap between urban youth and an older generation of black folks annoyed by all of this “hardcore” rap music. But Andre spent his time flypostering the town with high-profile posters of himself proclaiming “It’s On”, while Puffy developed a roster of artists that all went to number one in multi-platinum style including Faith Evans, The Notorious B.I.G., and Mase. Last month, after failing to break a single hit in more than two years, Harrell was fired as boss of Motown Records. At the same time, Davis was reworking Puffy’s Bad Boy contract to include a $6 million cash advance, a $50 million credit line, a $700,000 annual salary, and a right to buy the company - and all its master recordings - in the year 2001.
And guess who lost the basketball game…
The first time I met Puff was about three years ago as I was struggling to get into a D’Angelo release party in Manhattan. It was only about 10 p.m., but the guy at the door wasn’t letting anybody else in, so the scene shifted from inside the club to what was going on outside on the street. Different models were milling around, lots of industry heads were checking their beepers, and Tyson Beckford was showing off his new motorcycle.
I was amped because I thought I saw T-Boz of TLC. But after I realized the sista I was checking was just some other shorty with blonde hair, I got disappointed and began to make my way home. It was there I ran into Puff Daddy.
Standing by himself, bare-chested, with his pants falling below his waist and his shirt hanging from out of his pocket, Puff was turned around in the middle of the street looking very serious. The intensity of his expression made me hesitate at first before reaching out to shake his hand. And when I did, he just kinda mumbled “What’s up...” and suddenly shot down in the direction of the club.
It was then I got the feeling knew this brotha was up to something, something big, because while everybody was partying, hanging out, watching Tyson fall off his bike, Puffy was working. He was part of the scene, but he was also juicing it, studying it, and absorbing everything that was happening around him. Later that night, while listening to Mary J. Blige’s second album, My Life, I realized that that was Puffy’s gift, that was his talent, the ability to translate what he saw and felt around him into music and style, into beats, rhymes, melodies, and images that young black kids, like himself didn’t just like but somehow felt close to. The only question was how....
You’re never gonna catch my flow / producer, rapper, CEO
“When I started in the music industry, I didn’t like the way the music was coming out from the producers. It wasn’t innovative to me, it wasn’t young, it wasn’t what I felt the kids wanted to hear or dance to, except the stuff that Teddy Riley was doing, there wasn’t like a lot of hot stuff coming out.” It’s a warm spring evening and Puffy and I share a late dinner at Mr. Chows, an exclusive CEO kind-of-spot on Manhattan’s East Side.
“There weren’t any really driving and aggressive songs for the dance floor, and I didn’t know how to do it, but I said I’m going to try my best to do something different. The Jodeci project was kinda sitting around (at Uptown) and they were very talented and self-produced. They were like a piece of clay I thought I could help mould into something, so I just decided to take the way that kids was dressing in the streets and give it to them. Instead of me trying to interpret something, I just used all of the information that was in front of me.”
What sounds like an obvious enough marketing strategy today, rarely occurred in pop music before the ‘90’s. Style and imagery used to be dictated from the top down. We dressed like Madonna, we dressed like Michael Jackson, superstars didn’t take their cues from us. So from a marketing perspective, this willingness to see and appreciate the culture of the inner-city was a new thing, and Puffy had the ability to see everything first hand, because he lived in the culture itself.
“I was watching everybody trying to do all this off-the-wall stuff, but they weren’t doing what was the basic stuff, which was the lifestyle of young, urban America.”
That young, urban lifestyle that Puffy refers to that afternoon, I begin trailing him around, was hip-hop. And it was the growing pervasiveness of hip-hop culture that gave Puffy the instinct to know that if he exploded all the flair and the attitude, the drama and the pain from what was going on around him, the result would be irresistible when turned around and sold back to that same community. We loved Jodeci not because we wanted to be like them, but because we were them. We dressed like them, talked like them, hurt like them, and, most of us at least, were skinny like them. And Mary J. Blige was really nothing but that glammed-up sista from around the way, you know the kinda cute one who always had her nails done, the honey who was fiercely confident but always shook by a lot of heartache. Puffy brought that hip hop realness to the commercial arena, and instantly created pop stars out of ourselves.
“It was a blessing that the music was right with Jodeci. Devanté (Jodeci’s producer) was pretty much dope. So I got more into it on the remix side, and that’s where this whole remix thing started. Before there weren’t any remixes of R&B records.”
“Come & Talk To Me”, Puffy’s first remix, used “You’re A Customer” by EPMD to add a hard drum beat to the Jodeci slow jam. It sold close to two million records.
“I wanted to do something that wasn’t as R&B, because I always had this conception my head of combining hip-hop and singing on top of it, and ‘You’re A Customer’ was my favorite record. It’s actually my favorite record of all time, so the success of that remix, or of Jodeci in general, didn’t surprise me. I knew that they were filling a place in the marketplace, they were something that wasn’t already out there. Their sound and Mary’s sound were just so urban. It was exactly what the cats on the streets were thirsty for…So I guess you could say ‘Come & Talk To Me’ was my first jack!” Puffy says laughing, aware of the criticism he gets for being an uncreative producer. “I know people say stuff like: ‘He don’t do nothing but jack the records,’ but you know, everybody’s jackin’ records, and they’re not having the success I’m having.”
And to say that they’re not is a serious understatement. Puffy has garnered more than $200 million in record sales for Bad Boy Entertainment, and has held the number one position on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart, as either artist or producer, for an unprecedented 38 weeks in a row dating back to December of last year. But he, himself, can’t really explain why. What I want to know is how, over the past two years, has Bad Boy virtually turned itself into an infallible Hit Factory. And for that answer, we must go to Daddy’s house.
“And when you need a hit, Who you gonna get? Bet against us, Not a sure bet.”
In the middle of Time’s Square’s seediest side – not the side over-run with Disney toys and virtual reality arcades - Daddy’s House Recording Studio sits amidst the hectic debauchery that has made New York City famous. Porno shops and peep shows lay around one corner, hot dog stands and nasty burger joints are on another, and there are enough crackhead hookers - both male and female - walking around to make sure your eyes always keep looking straight ahead. But on any given night the great energy of those streets is transported to the second floor of a non-descript building that sits next to the famous Birdland Jazz club. This is the location of Bad Boy’s private recording studio, the place where, on any given night out of the week, an all-star cast of artists and producers can be found recording, mixing, or simply planning the music that, you bet, we will all get open off of sometime in the near future.
The night I was there with Puff, Faith was in one studio finishing up her album, Mase and the Lox were in another, Hype Williams was waiting to have a power meeting about his next video, Sister Souljah was writing a speech, DJ Clue was hyping up the new system in his car, Busta Rhymes was running in and out of every room doing something crazy, and both Grandmaster Flash and Jermaine Dupri were on hold on the phone.
One of the people who looked completely unfazed by all of this movement, was Michael Patterson, one of Puffy’s chief engineers. A short white kid from the midwest, Michael stared rolling with Puff two years ago after leaving Dallas Austin’s camp in Atlanta. Taking a break from recording while Puff filmed an Entertainment Tonight segment, Michael spoke while standing in the hallway eating a piece of fruit.
“Puff just constantly amazes me,” he begins, “because no matter what, he always seems to add the right thing to a song. A lot of tapes that we have are just a hodgepodge of good ideas and whether it’s moving a keyboard part, doing a drum pattern differently, or changing a vocal pattern, he’ll say, ‘Move this, and move that,’ and he works it into being a hit.
“It doesn’t matter whether he finds the material or someone else brings it in, Puff just immediately knows what works and what doesn’t. A lot of times we will mix a song and after like 15 hours working on it, Puff will come in and completely change whole sections. The song may already be slammin’ but the little things he’ll do even right towards the end will just push it over the top. And nothing goes out of here unless it is exactly the way he wants it. We can recall a whole mix because he’s like, ‘This high hat is too loud,’ or some goofy little thing that most people won’t even think of.”
Later that night, I’m in one of the sound rooms with Eric ‘D-Dot’ Angelittie. He met Puff in college in 1987 and now he’s part of a Puffy’s crew of producers known as ‘The Hitmen’. Over the past year, he has blazed some of the hottest joints to come out of Daddy’s House: “Hypnotize”’ “It’s All About The Benjamins”, and “Been Around The World” are all his productions.
“There are certain people you can describe as being ‘music men’,” Deric tells me playing with a metal mic stand, “like Berry Gordy or Clive Davis, and I think Puff’s just in that category. There’s no other way to describe him.
“He’s just a great finisher, batter number four in a line-up of baseball team. The first, second and the third men always go up and do their thing, but the fourth is expected to come up and a home run, to knock it out of the park. Puff does that. Somehow he sees the whole song before it’s actually produced. Like ‘Do You Know?’ off his solo album. That was just a whole bunch of samples that I had pieced together. But he sat down with me and said ‘I hear strings here, I hear it get dramatic here, I hear it doing this and doing that,’ so I just got together with J-Dub for some string parts, and the result was a great R&B record. Puff took the raw song and made it more commercially sounding.”
But do you like that more commercial sound better?
“Yeah, of course I do. I mean I still have to decide whether or not I want it to go that way. Puff’s not just gonna do it without me saying yes, because it’s a co-production. But 85-90% of the time he’s right.”
“Because he’s still young, and he’s in the clubs, and he knows what the youth want to listen to. He constantly keeps people around him who are on the streets and know what’s going on. It’s just kind of a subtle thing, but he listens to everything .”
“It’s like the rock band he’s doing, Fuzzbubble,” Michael continues. Fuzzbubble, a white rock group from Long Island, was signed to Bad Boy earlier this year. “That’s a cool project in a weird way because someone else is going to produce them, someone who’s more experienced with rock stuff, but when the record is done to the point of mixing, the tapes are going to come here and Puff’s going to do his magic. He’s going to put his handprint all over them and turn out a hit. See, a person may have a good idea and he’ll say ‘Oh, I like that,’ but he’ll still probably change it to make it better. And I guess it all comes down to what he likes. If he likes it personally, he doesn’t sit there and say, ‘Will people react to this?’, he’s just like ‘This is how a song makes him feel’.”
The next evening, I’m sitting with Puff in Daddy’s House mini-studio. Chucky Thompson is there playing some new tracks, Mario Winans is there trying to get some session time, and a young woman is waiting nervously to audition some songs. Dressed in a fierce club outfit, and quietly smiling at everyone who comes in and out of the room, the sista with the I-just-need-to-get-signed-look, holds on tightly to a notebook filled with handwritten song lyrics. See, she knows that being in the room with Puff is not enough, so she’s carefully watching everything that’s going on, trying, somehow, to get a moment with the star when he’s not doing a million other things, or listening to ten other tracks, all of which, she fears, are probably better than her own.
While she ponders how unlucky she is that Chucky Thompson, the man behind some of Mary J’s best material, is going to be playing his beats all night, Puffy looks up and says, “Go ahead girl, put your tape in.” In a flash, she jumps up to the tape console, fidgets to properly rewind it, turns to the right page in her notebook, and begins to sing. Not very well.
“No, next one,” Puff says within 30 seconds of the first track, “No, not that one either,” he says within 20 seconds of the second one. “You just got more and more, huh?”
“Well you know I gotta get this paper, baby,” she says to him way too honestly.
Before the fourth track begins, home-sista announces she has four different melodies for it, and on the third one, Puff, being surprisingly patient after all this time, seems to hear something he can work with.
“Wait, wait, wait, stop right there,” he says. “Sing that again.” She does, this time her voice cracking under the pressure. “No, no, now just the first part.” And it’s here that Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs shows the talent his studio mates had been trying to describe. Puff hums to her the melody he hears in his head. He doesn’t play it on a keyboard, or describe it to her in a technical sense, because he can’t. He’s not trained in any musical sense. He just hums it to her. And if she was on point, she would have turned around and ripped something with the melody he gave her and maybe they would have gone on to build a song from there. But she didn’t.
“So go work that out and come back to me,” he says to her instead as she turns to leave. “Oh, and stop singing about all that corny stuff, sing about something more from the heart.”
“To be honest, I don’t really have any master plan,” Puff said over a plate of squab (pigeon meat affectionately thought of as chicken) that night at Mr. Chows. “I just be feeling what James Brown must have felt like with all those sounds going on in his head. I be hearing all that grunting and moaning and breathing. It’s difficult to explain, but I just be feeling that shit.”
Later that night, I had run into Rick Rubin, who just made plans with Puff to remix “The Benjamins”. The famed producer of LL Cool J and Run DMC had also arranged to do remixes of two other Bad Boy tracks. “Most great producers do not have great technical skill,” he said. “And that’s why they’re producers and not musicians. Puffy has that ear, and he has that vision for music. It’s a vision that could keep him successful for a very long time.” A vision that has also told him to dig into classic hip hop crates for beats to recycle. BDP’s “South Bronx” blew up Total’s “No One Else”, Craig G’s old joint blew up Biggie’s “One More Chance” remix, and of course Flash’s “The Message” has been the platform for one of the biggest US radio hits of the year, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”.
A daring choice “The Message”, considering that Ice Cube had already used the beat with Das EFX to only moderate success, and nothing about hip hop before that single dropped hinted any kind of Sugar Hill Records nostalgia.
“Yeah, ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down’ was originally intended for Foxy Brown’s album,” Deric told me in the sound room, “and exactly what you’re saying happened. We gave them the track to say do this again because we’re gonna flip it and make it a hot radio joint for her, and they were like ‘Nah, we’re not feeling it.’ So Puff said, ‘Fuck it, I’m about to make an album. If they don’t want it - and I’m giving them a hit in their lap - then I’ll make it a hit!’”
“See, that’s where people make their mistake,” Puffy continues at dinner. “I’m not sampling a record for the sample. That’s what other people do. I’m making a new record, I’m hearing some of those sounds in my head. Yeah, I’m using a sample, but you have to produce a whole new piece. If you don’t do anything to that beat, that’s how you get fucked up. I don’t think people are like, ‘Damn, that’s Flash & The Furious 5,’ they’rethinking ‘Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down!’ And that’s some ill shit to do!”
Well, not really. But it is ill to sell more than two million copies of it. And while “Hold Me Down” may not be the best example of Puffy creating a whole new song, I mean even if the words off the hook are the same, Puffy’s interpolation of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” for the record-breaking “I’ll Be Missing You” single may be a little better.
“We worked on that song for six days straight,” Michael reveals, still waiting to go behind the soundboard. “When we finished mixing it, we knew that nothing could have gone better than that session. From the moment we did it, to the moment it was done, it was just six days straight of intense work, and it was just one of those feelings, the whole time, that it would be a hit.”
“Because of how the words play into such a timeless song, and for what it was saying. I mean everybody’s lost someone.” True indeed. And tragically, Sean Combs has been a witness to a lot of death since he was the cat throwing the hottest parties at Howard University. The death of Notorious B.I.G., the death of Tupac, the death of all those kids at City College, were topics I decided not to bring up with Puffy in my short time in his mix, they’re topics that the press have squeezed ad nauseum without extracting an ounce more juice out of what they see as pure melodrama. But if you spend time with Puff, and you watch him closely, you get the feeling that so much of the energy we’ve seen from him in the months since Biggie’s death, all of the songs and the videos and the TV performances, are as a direct result of losing his closest friend. It’s as if he’s pushing himself to be insanely successful, to fill every second with things his friend would be proud of, like that the frenzied activity itself, would distract him from feeling the loss of B.I.G.
“On the outside it may look different,” Jason Delgado, Puffy’s personal assistant reveals to me in between making power moves for his boss on the vibrating mobile, “but I know down deep inside, deep in his heart and in his mind, he’s always missing B.I.G. He talks about him or recognizes him in some kind of way everyday. When we all came back from LA that week, Puff sat down with the staff and just let us know how he felt. He wanted us to explain to him why he should keep going, why he should keep doing his music. If you could have just seen his eyes...”
By 11 a.m. every morning, you won’t find Puffy Combs in his office, the studio, or just rising out of bed somewhere. You will find him in rehearsal - dance rehearsal - with a personal choreographer in a private studio in Midtown Manhattan. It’s the perfect place and the perfect way for someone to turn themselves into a superstar, and that’s exactly what Puffy aims to do.
“Come on, come on. Make it hot!” his instructor encourages him during one of the many run-throughs of the long five minute routine. Puffy is doing much better than the day before, but still seems to be getting stuck on a point where he kicks his leg up and slides across the floor. The funny thing is, he’s the only one who notices.
“He’s like that,” his instructor says, “he’ll keep doing it over and over without me telling him, and he never gets tired.” The dance is for “I’ll Be Missing You”, which Puff Daddy will perform live on the upcoming MTV Music Video Awards. As a surprise guest comes up from the floor, Puff will be doing his high energy routine behind him. It’s a moment that’s sure to bring the house down.
“I thought I told you that we wont stop.”
What you see every morning in those three hours, what you see when you watch him practice those steps again and again and again is that, contrary to popular belief, Puffy’s success is no accident.
Sure there’s a lot of luck involved, and yes there are many people around him who help make it all happen, but Puffy works incredibly hard to be and stay on top. “Many times you get a phone call in the middle of the night to come to the studio,” Michael says. “Puff is just the type of person where there is something in his personality that says, ‘I don’t need to sleep, I’m just gonna work.’ I remember a conversation he was having with someone on the phone one day, which actually still inspires me. He said, ‘The reason I am who I am, is because I go to bed after you do, and I get up before you.’ I think about that when I’m being lazy in the morning, and I get up and go to work.”
“I’m motivated by keeping people entertained,” Puffy said to me when I asked him about that drive. “I’m motivated by rocking the house - like when it’s 1 a.m. in a club and they throw on an hour and a half of Puff Daddy records and everybody goes crazy. That’s what I’m motivated by and, really, that’s when I’m happiest.”
His assistant continues: “No one realizes he doesn’t have all these people working for him, because he’s really a man who’s hands-on with everything. And it’s not easy because he’s really meticulous. He can’t have anything different from what he visualizes or what he wants.” A personality trait that, undoubtedly, doesn’t make him too easy to work with or for. Bad Boy Entertainment has three albums due out by the end of the year - by Faith, Mase, and The Lox - and for each of those artists Bad Boy has to define marketing strategies, set up publicity events, and shoot videos. They’re also trying to arrange an upcoming European tour, release new Biggie and Puffy singles, and do two more high-powered videos. All this has to be done around Puffy’s production schedule for his artists, as well as the studio plans he makes with all the other artists who call him up daily, ready to pay for tracks and remixes.
Jeff Burroughs, General Manager of Bad Boy Entertainment, is the man responsible for all this business, and the afternoon he meets with Puff to arrange how it’s all going to get done, his boss is not being very helpful.
“I’m not doing anything before the MTV Awards except rehearsing for the show,” Puff says adamantly to the posse of managers, directors, and assistants all seated around him.
Jeff: “But Puff, if we don’t shoot either the Faith or Mase video before then, we won’t be able to have them ready when the singles drop.”
Puff: “I’m not doing anything before MTV.”
Jeff: “Puff, you’re not listening, we’re gonna get fucked up if we’re late with one of those videos...”
Puff: “I don’t care. I know what I’m doing, and until you can go into that studio and come out with a number one song, we’re not talking about it anymore.”
Jeff walks out.
On July 21st, the night before No Way Out went out on sale, hundreds of kids stood on line outside Manhattan’s Virgin Megastore for the chance to meet Puff Daddy. It had been announced on radio that Puff was going to make an appearance, and many of the heads on line, dressed in a variety of baggy jeans and sneakers, short skirts and pumps, had been waiting almost three hours. By midnight, when it started pouring with rain, it looked as if he would be coming soon, since his street team was out in full force pacing around the area in phat Bad Boy rain jackets waving huge signs.
But an hour later, it seemed pretty clear that Puffy was not going to show up. The store had turned its lights out, the police were telling the people on line to go home, and everybody was drenched by the torrential rain that added nothing but a natural drama to the whole affair. The kids were wet, but surprisingly, they weren’t mad.. They still wanted their album, and as long as they could see the life-size cut-out of their man staring at them in the window, they weren’t going anywhere. By the end of that week, No Way Out had sold more than 560,000 copies in the US alone.
“I be the nigga that you niggas cant fuck wit’ / Playa hate but you wanna do a song with.”
“I honestly felt like I was taking a chance by coming out with my own album, but when I decided to do it, I said before I put it out, I’m gonna make sure that I love it. Everybody may not like it, but I feel that for my first album, I did the best I can. And as far as writing goes, I know people will never give me the props, but melody wise, my shit is real tricky.”
How do you write your rhymes?
“I sit down with a writer. I wrote a whole lot of stuff on my album with Sauce Money from Roc-A-Fella. We’ll be kicking it all day, and I’ll write four bars or something and he’ll take it from there. I ain’t even got the patience to write the whole rhyme, I’ll tell him what I want to say. I’ll always change some of it in the end, But me sitting down and writing three 16s? That’s just not possible, I need help!”
Puff Daddy the artist is a creation. A creation made from what young African-Americans have managed to take from the ‘90s. We now have a hot culture that is ours, We have a lifestyle that everyone wants to copy, and we have a music that can illuminate us for the whole world to see. Puffy embodies the dreams of the hip hop generation, he is the living example of everything our young kids want to be, and feel like they can be. No one knows where RZA gets all his crazy sounds from, few heads can find words like Nas, but Puff was nothing but the average brotha who wanted to have a good time, the cat who loved to throw parties. What separated him was his desire and his drive. When everybody else stopped, he wanted more. He kept pushing and pushing, trying to do more and more things, and something told he could get everything he wanted, NOW. So what if he didn’t know music, so what if he didn’t know how to rhyme, he could still be a star. See, Tupac was special in a different way. Tupac wanted to lead, to teach us something, he felt the weight of history on his back, but Puffy wants to show us what is in ourselves, how much we can be heard and seen, and how much we can achieve. Kids don’t want to be like him, somewhere inside, they feel they are him. And that’s why Puffy’s music and his imagery are so irresistible.
“I know I’m not the illest producer. I know I’m not really known for having the greatest lyricists. I can’t fuck with RZA or Premier in a jeep, or in the underground or whatever, but at a party? As a vibe-giver? Can’t nobody fuck with me! And I’m getting stronger. I’m getting better everyday. It’s like Jordan or something, man. I’ll just score sixty points on you again.”
My last night with Puff, we go to a highly trendy mid-week club spot in lower Manhattan. Jeff Burroughs and Mario Winans are with us, Puff’s manager Benny Medina is there, as are a couple of bodyguards and a cute little intern just hired to the label.
The scene is hot: Busts Rhymes’ new track is getting everyone open, heads are dancing, parlayin’, buying drinks. Puff finds a nice booth for everybody, orders a round of champagne, and disappears onto the dance floor. I sit at the table nodding my head, checking out all the folks suddenly watching me because of the company I was in that night, when, as if on cue, the DJ starts spinning B.I.G.’s “One More Chance.”
Instantly everyone’s energy level rises, heads jump out of their seats and the crowd gets thick. But Biggie’s classic only warms us up for “Hypnotize”, which then, in turn, only sets us up for this years guaranteed payoff cut, “It’s All About The Benjamins”.
It’s 1:15 a.m.
Amidst the hysteria, I search for Puff among all the waving arms and smiling faces, and there I find him, in the middle of the floor, his hands held high in the air. Here was Puff Daddy, the shining prince of this our new renaissance, unconquered still.