The Career Milestone Diddy Says Felt Like ‘Black History’

Sean “Diddy” Combs has expanded his empire beyond the world of music over the past three decades. The “Last Night” rapper has amassed a sizable net worth as a result. When he looks back on his expansive career, Diddy considers one moment to be a major part of Black history.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, whose career dates back to the early 1990s, smiling for a photo
Sean “Diddy” Combs | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Diddy launched his career in the music industry in the early 1990s

Diddy first got his start in the music industry in the late 1980s when he was still a student at Howard University, commuting to New York City for an internship at Uptown Records. He was soon hired full-time by founder Andre Harrell.

Diddy worked as an A&R executive while at Uptown Records, scouting out new talent and helping support artists on the label. During this time, he discovered The Notorious B.I.G.; when Harrell fired Diddy from Uptown in 1993, Diddy signed Biggie to his new record label, Bad Boy Records.

He soon started recording music as a rapper himself, releasing his debut album in 1997. His 1997 single “I’ll Be Missing You,” released in tribute to Biggie after his death in March, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The career milestone Diddy considers ‘Black history’

Diddy has had plenty of career accomplishments over the years, but there’s one in particular that he was especially proud of. In a 2006 interview with Oprah Winfrey, he reflected on the opening of a brick-and-mortar location on Fifth Avenue for his Sean John clothing line.

“It felt like Black history,” he said. “You see, our generation really wants to make you all proud of us. That’s the craziest thing about it. We want to know that we’re doing a good job. We look up to you.”

“It’s about giving,” he added. “I think that’s why we’re put on this earth.”

“The same year the store opened, I won a ‘menswear designer of the year’ award,” he continued. “Something that began as a hip-hop brand is now a globally recognized brand. We’ve proved that Black designers can be successful.”

When discussing with Oprah how rappers are often young people from difficult backgrounds who find themselves with immense financial success, he claimed that rappers are more focused on long-term financial planning than short-term satisfaction with expensive purchases.

“We go spend [our money]. But now we’re learning about annuities and portfolios,” he said. “It’s my fault that there’s a misperception of who I am: people think all I do is party and buy diamonds. But I do like nice things and I make no apologies for that.”

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Diddy is one of two hip-hop billionaires today

In addition to Sean John, Diddy has had a part in many other major brands. He has stakes in liquor brands Cîroc and DeLeon, and founded the Revolt TV network.

Diddy officially achieved billionaire status in 2022. He’s only one of two billionaires along with Jay-Z, and is only the third person in hip-hop ever to reach a billion-dollar net worth after Jay-Z and Kanye West; West’s net worth was decimated in 2022.