If you’ve ever sat through a boring college history class and wondered when knowing anything about some old, dead dude like George Washington was going to matter in your life, because you’d rather talk about people who are still alive and poppin’ bottles at the club, then New York University might just have the class for you. The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music has a new History & Criticism course beginning this Friday, and it focuses on the man who asked us all if we wanted to be ballers, shot-callers, or perhaps brawlers, who would be dipping in the Benz with the spoilers, Mr. Sean Combs.
That’s right, “Sean Combs & Urban Culture” is an actual 2-credit course that students can take to learn about how the man known as Puff Daddy and P. Diddy and Diddy and Ding Dong Diddily Ding Dong Diddy has influenced our daily lives. Take it away, course catalog description.
No single personality dominated the landscape of urban mainstream popular culture in the 1990s (and since) more than producer, rapper and entrepreneur Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. By 2013, hip-hop and black culture have become globally mainstream; the immense popularity that hip-hop enjoys today is directly rooted in the profound cultural changes that Combs and his peers instigated. Combs emerged from his humble professional beginnings in the early 1990s as an A&R man at Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records to fashion himself as a profoundly versatile and wildly successful performer, actor, reality-TV star, producer, songwriter, fashion and restaurant entrepreneur and philanthropist. His current net worth estimated at $550 million makes him the richest man in hip-hop and one of the wealthiest artists in the history of popular music. He is a multiple Grammy-winner and won an Oscar in 2012 for his work as a film producer.
Though sometimes not treated with seriousness he deserves…
Sorry, I hate to interrupt, but all I can imagine here is a lecture on why Dave Chappelle owes Puff Daddy an apology.
… Combs has had a profound effect on global culture of the last twenty years. Through the success of his Bad Boy Records label, which distributed genre-defining artists like the Notorious B.I.G., Combs helped forever alter and change the sound and visuals of hip hop and R&B. Combs drew on Russell early business success to redefine the image of the hip-hop entrepreneur as aggressive, brash and full of self-assured swagger. He also helped redefine the concept of celebrity branded entertainment and he mainstreamed innovative marketing techniques (like street teams) in the music industry.
This class will investigate the social and cultural and political changes of the 1990s and how Sean Combs was catapulted to success by those changes. Through critical readings, viewings and listening assignments, the brilliance, tragedy, strategy and serial entrepreneurship of Sean Combs will be interpreted, discussed and dissected.
Here is a sample question that I was able to get my hands on from this course’s final exam:
(Original image via Getty and Shutterstock)