Bad Boy Records
About Bad Boy Records
Bad Boy Records (originally Bad Boy Entertainment) is an East Coast Hip-Hop/R&B record label founded by producer/rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs in 1991 that is a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
After his climb from a non-paying internship to becoming an A&R executive at Uptown Records, Sean (“Puffy”) Combs was abruptly terminated in 1993 by the then CEO Andre Harrell—reportedly due to his own difficulty to work with. Upon his firing, Arista Records chief Clive Davis took advantage of Combs' free agent status and agreed to bankroll him his own vanity label to be operated through Arista and its BMG parent. A handful of the acts who had been signed to Uptown via Combs just prior to his dismissal were dropped from the label; among them were Christopher Wallace (aka The Notorious B.I.G.), and Craig Mack—both of whom Combs would take with him to his new company.
The label’s first release was Craig Mack's “Flava In Yer Ear,” followed quickly by Mack's debut album, Project: Funk Da World in 1991. On the heels of these releases came “Juicy” and Ready To Die, the lead single and debut album from The Notorious B.I.G. (who would also be referred to as “Biggie”), released the same year. While Mack's album went gold, Ready to Die achieved multi-platinum success. Dominating the charts into 1995, B.I.G. became one of the rap worlds biggest names of the day and Bad Boy’s premier star. Also in 1992, the label continued its success with platinum releases by Total and Faith Evans. Bad Boy, meanwhile, staffed a bevy of in-house writer/producers, including: Chucky Thompson, Easy Mo Bee, Nashiem Myrick and D Dot—all of whom were instrumental in producing many of Bad Boy’s most noted releases during this time.
Posthumously, Biggie’s Life After Death entered Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at number one. Its first two singles, “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems” also topped the singles charts. It eventually sold 10 million copies, and was one of the highest selling rap albums ever.
In early 1997, Puff Daddy had begun recording his own solo debut album. The first single, “Can't Nobody Hold Me Down,” peaked at number one on the rap, R&B, and pop charts that spring. In response to Biggie’s death, the label rush-released a Puff Daddy tribute song, “I'll Be Missing You,” which featured Biggie's widow, Faith Evans, and Bad Boy's R&B singing group 112. The single topped the charts for eleven weeks and became the hasty second single from Combs’ album, No Way Out, which was released in the summer and sold seven million copies. Mase, Combs’ newest protégé, in the meantime was immediately thrust into the void that Biggie left. His own debut album, Harlem World, also released the same year, would go 4x platinum. Due to the successive successes of Life After Death, No Way Out, and Harlem World, by the end of 1997, Bad Boy as a label and brand name had hit a commercial peak. During this time, the label began to promote its latest signing—the Yonkers-based act, The L.O.X., who had been prominently featured on various Bad Boy releases that year. Though highly anticipated, their 1998 debut album, Money, Power & Respect sold below commercial expectation. Shortly thereafter, the group departed the label and entered into a long standing publishing dispute with Combs that would continue up until 2005.
In the years to follow, Bad Boy saw a decline. In 1999, Mase became religious and abruptly retired from the business—leaving a serious dent in the company, especially since his second album had just been released. Bad Boy found some success with Shyne, a young rapper from Brooklyn, who garnered both praise and criticism for his deep voice and slow flow—which many considered to be too reminiscent to, and perhaps a rip-off of, the Notorious B.I.G. Meanwhile, Combs’ own follow-up albums failed to generate the same kind of acclaim that his debut had. In an attempt to further market himself, he underwent several name changes; from “Puff Daddy” to “P. Diddy,” to now simply “Diddy.”
As the 2000s emerged, Bad Boy had noticeably floundered. Many of its more noted acts would eventually vacate the label, including diminishing act Faith Evans, who left Bad Boy and went on to record The First Lady for new label Capitol Records, while those who remained saw their sales dwindle as time went on. In spite of continually releasing new material, and various attempts at building artists to the status of Bad Boy’s deceased icon, few proved as successful as the company hoped.
Bad Boy saw its fortunes improve in 2005, with the success of releases from new signees: Chris Brown and Yung Joc (both of whom would score top five singles/debut album albums). Also in 2006, Bad Boy hit paydirt with Making The Band 3’s Danity Kane, whose debut album topped the charts at #1 (the labels first chart topping album since the Bad Boys II: The Soundtrack three years prior), and spun off a top ten single.