Bad Boy Records
|Bad Boy Records|
|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City, New York|
Bad Boy Records (originally Bad Boy Entertainment) is a record label founded in 1993 by producer/rapper/entrepreneur Sean Combs. Today, it operates as a division of Universal Music Group, and is distributed by Interscope Records.
After his climb from a non-paying internship to becoming an A&R executive at Uptown Records, Sean ("Diddy") Combs was fired in 1993 by Andre Harrell. Combs soon founded Bad Boy Records in 1993. The label’s first release was "Flava In Ya Ear" by Craig Mack, followed quickly by Mack's debut album, Project: Funk Da World in 1994. On the heels of these releases came "Juicy" and Ready To Die, the lead single and debut album from The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls), released the same year. While Mack's album went gold, Ready to Die achieved multi-platinum success. Dominating the charts in 1995, B.I.G. became one of the genre’s biggest names of the day and Bad Boy’s premier star. Also in 1995, 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, and D Dot—all of whom were instrumental in producing many of Bad Boy’s most noted releases during this time.
Feud with Death Row
The rapid success of Notorious B.I.G., and Bad Boy as a company, raised some tensions, especially with the Los Angeles-based Death Row Records. For two years leading up to 1995, West Coast hip hop, dominated by Death Row, had been preeminent in mainstream rap music. Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, held Combs responsible for the shooting death of his friend Jake Robles, allegedly at the hands of Combs's bodyguard. Tensions were heightened when Death Row signed superstar rapper 2Pac, who alleged that the Bad Boy circle, notably Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy, had been complicit in the November 1994 shooting of him in the lobby of Quad Studios in Times Square.
After the June 1996 release of "Hit 'Em Up", smearing Bad Boy, tensions escalated. Tupac was shot in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996 soon after attending the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Tupac was pronounced dead on September 13. Bad Boy Records issued a statement of condolences. On March 9, 1997, while Bad Boy prepared to release of Biggie's double album Life After Death, he was shot and killed in a car after leaving a party in Los Angeles. The deaths of Biggie and Tupac left many to speculate if the coastal hostility had been responsible for their murders. The police investigations were criticized by public and judicial sources. Both cases remain officially unsolved.
Life after The Notorious B.I.G. and rebuilding the label
Posthumously, Biggie’s Life After Death reached number one on the Billboard Top 200. Its first two singles, "Hypnotize" and "Mo Money, Mo Problems" also topped the singles charts. The album eventually sold over 10 million copies in the United States alone, and is one of the highest selling rap albums ever in the U.S..
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 commercial 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 "Puffy" to "P. Diddy," to simply just "Diddy" then shortly Diddy- Dirty Money." But with the split of the group he abruptly returned to "Diddy."
As the 2000s emerged, Bad Boy had noticeably floundered. Many of its more noted acts would eventually vacate the label, while those who remained saw their album 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.
Southern rap duo 8Ball & MJG released an album called Living Legends to some success in 2004, prompting the creation of Bad Boy South—which would eventually house acts such as Boyz N Da Hood and Yung Joc. In 2002, Combs’ participated in MTV's Making The Band 2, which spun off the Bad Boy assembled act, Da Band. In spite of their MTV exposure leading to a gold selling debut album, Combs later disbanded the group. At this time, the label also signed a rapper named Aasim, whose Bad Boy debut (as of 2013) still has not been released.
Bad Boy saw its fortunes improve in 2005, with the success of releases from new signees: Cassie and Yung Joc (both of whom would score top five singles/debut 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 label's first chart topping album since the Bad Boys II soundtrack three years prior), and spun off a top five single. Their second album, Welcome to the Dollhouse also debuted at #1, and contained the group's second top ten single "Damaged". Diddy also signed Day26 and Donnie Klang to the label.
Recently Combs has dissolved Danity Kane, terminating Aubrey O'Day's, D. Woods', Shannon Bex's and Aundrea Fimbres' contracts. Currently Dawn Richard is working as solo artist and songwriter for Bad Boy. In March 2009, it was reported that Richard and Combs were assembling a new girl group. But later formed a group called Dirty Money with Richard, Combs and a singer-songwriter named Kalenna Harper. In April 2009, Bad Boy signed Red Cafe.
In September 2009, it was announced that Combs would be leaving Warner Music Group, inking a new deal with Universal Music Groups's Interscope Records. Under the terms of the new deal, Combs rebooted the Bad Boy Records name and trademark, to be operated through Interscope. The previous Bad Boy catalog and roster, however, remains under the control of Warner Music.
In 2010, Diddy offered Mase a one-year release from Bad Boy Records to settle their differences after the 2009 incident with Mase wanting to be released from Bad Boy. With this Mase decided to retire from rap for good, although he was to be reassigned to Bad Boy after his year break was done. In 2011, under his new deal with Interscope-Geffen-A&M, Diddy stated he was looking for new talent to add to his new Bad Boy roster. Jay Electronica, who had close ties with Diddy, was originally planned to be signed to the label but had signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation imprint instead. Machine Gun Kelly announced that he signed to Bad Boy/Interscope on August 3, 2011. French Montana and Los also were announced as signees to the label in 2012.
On April 25, 2012, Mase featured alongside Diddy on Wale's "Slight Work" remix, marking the first appearance of the Harlem rapper on record since 2010. Rumors began to start that Mase, as well as singer Omarion, were both signing to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group. It was later revealed that Bad Boy artist French Montana was the reason Mase was making his third comeback. According to Montana, Mase is serving as an A&R representative on Montana's forthcoming Bad Boy debut, "Excuse My French," as well as appearing on the remix of Montana's "Everything's a Go." "I'm not sure what kind of decisions he's going to make," Montana says, "[but] I would love to see him in my camp." Mase is currently resigned to Bad Boy Records but has yet to announce whether he is resigned as part of a joint venture deal between Bad Boy and MMG. He later announced he had gotten his release from Bad Boy. Rapper Los announced his departure from Bad Boy Records on March 19, 2014.
|Act||Year signed||# Albums released under Bad Boy|
|Machine Gun Kelly||2011||1|
|Megan Nicole||Signed, released debut EP under Hume Records|