The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy, then P. Diddy, and now simply Diddy just hit another major milestone in his career. Last week at Tribeca Film Festival, he was the man of the hour at the premiere of his documentary produced in partnership with Live Nation, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story. It’s been over two decades since Sean Combs started Bad Boy Records, the legendary label that launched the careers of hip-hop legends like Notorious B.I.G., 112, and Ma$e, and Comb’s stronghold on the music industry has yet to let up.
While known for his business acumen, Diddy is also the purveyor of the shiny suit. So this was not your average film festival premiere. In addition to a star-studded red carpet opening that included the likes of Naomi Campbell, French Montana, and Nick Cannon, the Beacon Theater erupted into a concert at the closing of the film. Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, and Diddy himself were among the performers.
As for the film itself, the subtitle, The Bad Boy Story, is a bit misleading. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop highlights the most iconic, and highly publicised milestones in the label’s history. Events that even a casual fan of hip-hop has heard about at some point: the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry that the label found itself part of; the murder of Biggie Smalls; the controversial love triangle between Biggie, Lil Kim, and Faith Evans; and the sudden spiritual awakening of many Bad Boy artists. It's not the behind-the-label story that I expected, but insights from music greats like Jay Z and Nas definitely helped bring the history to life.
The doc's main theme is the build-up to the sold-out Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour that happened last year. And it was a short road, indeed. Diddy entrusted legendary choreographer Laurieann Gibson to be the creative director for the tour, and it was put together in about two weeks. At one moment in the film, Laurieann insists that she's General, completely running the show; by all accounts, she's right.
At the end of the post-film performance, Diddy introduced the crowd to Gibson using the popular saying: “Behind every great man is a great woman.” I couldn’t help but think how that applies to Bad Boy as a whole. Some of my generation’s favourite female rappers, singers, and groups have connections to the label. Feeling inspired by the empire Diddy has built, I'd like to celebrate these artists.