Sean Combs has changed his name again. The multihyphenate mogul who recently topped Forbes‘ Hip-Hop Cash Kings list for 2017 took to Twitter to announce that his newest, self-chosen sobriquet will be “Brother Love,” or simply, “Love.” He also asserted that he would no longer respond to any version of previous nom de Guerres “Puff Daddy,” “Puffy,” “P. Diddy,” or “Diddy.” We’ll see how long that pans out, or even if he can get “Brother Love” to stick, but given how often he changes his stage name, it might not be advisable to get too comfortable with the Brother Love nomenclature.
What’s the deal with Combs’s constant cognomen shuffling? Well, if prior history is anything to go by, his name changes seem to correlate with album announcements. Essentially, he’ll announce a name change, with a new music declaration following shortly thereafter. It also generally seems to imply a shift in musical direction as well. For instance, when he dropped the “P.” from “P. Diddy,” he released Press Play — an album that made for an intriguing departure from his previously established sound — just a year later. Below is a brief history of the many name changes of the man known as Sean Combs.
1997–2000: “Puff Daddy”
An entire generation was introduced to the man behind Bad Boy Entertainment as the producer who was “all in the videos… dancing,” on productions from The Notorious BIG and Craig Mack. Alternately known as “Puff” or “Puffy,” Combs took his first steps as an artist with No Way Out, released in 1997 just a few short months after Combs’ artist BIG was murdered in a still-unsolved Los Angeles shooting. The album went platinum multiple times and earned Combs the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998. He followed that album with Forever, and spent the latter portion of the decade dating actress and singer Jennifer Lopez until he and Bad Boy artist Shyne were arrested after a shooting in Club New York in Manhattan. Combs skated on the charges, which included four weapons-related charges and bribing his driver to take ownership of the weapon used.
2001–04: “P. Diddy”
Perhaps in an effort to slough off the negative associations stemming from the gun charges, Combs announced his first big name change, from “Puff Daddy” to “P. Diddy” in 2001. The choice was met with a modicum of derision from the hip-hop community, but nonetheless, eventually, most publications and fans seemingly got comfy with the idea of his new name by July, when he released his next album, The Saga Continues…, in a joint venture with Arista Records. Featuring “Bad Boy For Life” and parts one and two of “I Need A Girl,” the LP represented a career renaissance for the rap tycoon, who used the new found momentum to launch several endeavors including the Making The Band television franchise. Making The Band would become the inspiration for the iconic Chappelle’s Show sketch that saw Chappelle, as P. Diddy, sending the cast members to far-flung New York locales for authentic Cambodian breastmilk, among other ridiculous requests.