BEVERLY HILLS — Sean “Diddy” Combs is putting both his own music career and his long-awaited next album, No Way Out 2, on hold.
Instead, he wants to help develop other artists of color.
“I want to dive into producing and creating content and really just supporting content creators. I think that the impact I want to have is to be able to empower a lot of the storytellers of color, who are not getting that chance and that opportunity,” he told BuzzFeed News recently, slouched back on a lounge chair at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “When I’m starting to make decisions, [I’m like,] ‘Can I have an impact that’s bigger than myself?’ … Working behind the scenes, I think, will give people more opportunities and break down some doors.”
For nearly 30 years, Diddy has been trying to do just that as he’s worked alongside the old white men of the music business. “That’s all the music industry was when I was coming up,” he said with a laugh. “I mean, that’s what also gave me motivation ’cause I wanted to break down that door.”
In the early ’90s, Combs rose from an unpaid internship to a talent director position at Uptown Records, launched his own Bad Boys Records in 1993, and subsequently changed the course of hip-hop with Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, 112, and Mase, among others. “I owed it to myself to be free … it was time for interns to start coming up and running the culture,” said Combs, who dropped out of Howard University in 1990 after he got the full-time offer at Uptown. “It wasn’t easy, by far. I had to stay really focused and really work hard.”
His trajectory is the subject of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story, Daniel Kaufman’s documentary that premieres on June 25 on Apple Music. The film also details the challenges Combs faced while preparing for his Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour in 2016, and features archival footage of his friendship with Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G. “A lot of people don’t realize how young he was,” Combs said of Biggie, who was killed at 24 in 1997. “He was just a kid. We were just kids chasing our dreams.”
And the kids he sees doing the same today give him hope. Although Combs acknowledged the gatekeepers of the music industry haven’t changed in terms of demographics, “a lot of that is changing with kids having their own independent record labels,” he said. “A lot of that is getting diversified.”
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story is a film Combs thinks will resonate with young aspiring artists today, the ones he wants to promote in lieu of working on his own music. “I think that this generation has the biggest opportunity to change and save the world,” he said. “The power has never been more in their hands. We’ve never been more unified culturally than we are now.”