Sean “Puffy” Combs Calls Out The Blatant Racism In The Entertainment Business

Sean “Puffy” Combs is a 25-plus-year symbol of Black entrepreneurship in the music and entertainment industries. While others like Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, and Berry Gordy came before Puffy, his more modern, Hip Hop-specific prowess has placed him as one of the Rap business’ elite and most enduring figures. The onetime Uptown Records intern has climbed to the top of the Forbes list, with ventures in liquor, television, fashion, film, and more. In music circles, Puff is best known for founding Bad Boy Records and building a Black-owned empire that has groomed artists and executives of color. At his label, he also serves as an artist and hit-making producer.

In a new cover story interview with Variety, the 48-year-old sprinkled some game for those looking to be the next head honchos of their respective enterprises, and also delivered a stern warning of what they might face in that climb to the top.

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“You have these record companies that are making so much money off our culture, our art form, but they’re not investing or even believing in us,” Diddy says of his genre’s commercial dominance. “For all the billions of dollars that these Black executives have been able to make them, [there’s still hesitation] to put them in the top-level positions. They’ll go and they’ll recruit cats from overseas. It makes sense to give [executives of color] a chance and embrace the evolution, instead of it being that we can only make it to president, senior VP. … There’s no black CEO of a major record company. That’s just as bad as the fact that there are no [black] majority owners in the NFL. That’s what really motivates me.”

More specifically, Sean Combs broke down how many Black business-people and trendsetters often aren’t able to create their own wealth. He claims they’re blocked from the capital and resources necessary, even though when they are given opportunities, Black business owners often “over-deliver.”

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“We only get 5% of the venture capital invested in things that are Black-owned: Black-owned businesses, Black-owned ideas, Black-owned IP,” he said. “You can’t do anything without that money, without resources. But when we do get the resources, we over-deliver. When Adidas invests in Kanye [West] and it’s done properly, you have the right results. When Live Nation invests in artists and puts them in arenas the same way U2 would be, you have the right results. Black Panther, Black-ish, fashion; it’s all about access. If you’re blocked out of the resources, you can’t compete. And that’s my whole thing — to be able to come and compete.”

The Variety feature also includes others’ comments about Diddy and his makeup as an executive. U2 manager Guy Oseary, longtime staffer Dia Simms, Fergie, and Fox Television Group chairman/CEO Dana Walden all comment positively about their interactions with the Bad Boy Records founder and CEO. He also speaks about his television channel and content platform REVOLT as well as reminisces over the inspiration of Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street.

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Helping Black businesses grow is not just something Sean Combs preaches. Recently, in coordination with JAY-Z, the Harlem native invested millions of dollars in the startup company Promise and put financial resources behind another currently unnamed program aimed at locating Black businesses closest to a consumer should they be interested in finding them. The duo of friends also collaborated on a documentary celebrating Black success called Black Excellence A Short Film: What’s Better Than One Billionaire? Two.

Read the full Variety cover story on Sean “Puffy” Combs.