At the age of 19, Sean “Diddy” Combs was already making his dreams come true.


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Uptown Records

Combs took a bet on himself by leaving Howard University to take on a position at Uptown Records, where he was first an intern. He worked directly with the late Andre Harrell — the founder of the label — who passed away at age 59 in 2020.

What’s more, Combs was proving to already be a bright light.

“I was like a wonder kid at Uptown. The first record I produced sold two million copies—and I’d only produced it because the producer didn’t show up,” Combs said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

He continued: “My talent is definitely a gift. I don’t understand where it comes from. I don’t play an instrument, and I never went to school for music production, but I know exactly how a song should sound and how to give an artist direction.”

Why Combs Was Fired

Combs continued to sell a number of records during his time at the label and credits his passion for his success.

However, in July 1993, the mogul was fired from Uptown.

“I was very passionate, and I didn’t understand protocol or workplace politics,” Combs told Winfrey. “So I got fired because there can’t be two kings in one castle. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to Andre, but I was fighting so hard. He wanted to be more diplomatic and to make sure everybody felt involved. Getting fired was one of the best things that could have happened to me.”

After he was let go by the label, Combs came to understand the lessons that Harrell taught him. He was then motivated to ensure his time left there wouldn’t be in vain.

Meanwhile, Harrell also understood Combs’ journey outside of Uptown Records would ultimately put him in an even better position.

“I fired Puff only to make him rich,” said Harrell in the Bad Boy documentary “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story,” according to Page Six.

What’s more, Harrell had another incentive for cutting the ropes with Diddy.

Notorious B.I.G. was having trouble with the release of his debut album under Uptown Records. According to AP News, the label’s distributor, MCA Records, was hesitant due to it being the unfiltered topic of street life.

For these reasons, he wanted to make sure Combs wouldn’t face similar restrictions.

“I didn’t want to sit there and be the one confining Puff because the corporation was telling me to do that. I’m not built that way,” Harrell previously said, according to the outlet. “I told Puff he needs to go and create his own opportunity.”


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Bad Boy Records

Within the same year of being fired, Combs began to create his legacy through Bad Boy Records, bringing Notorious B.I.G. under his wing, too.

What happened after that is what one would call history.

He helped catapult Notorious B.I.G. further into stardom with his 1994 debut album “Ready to Die.”

From there, it was up — and stuck.

The Bad Boy empire also included acts like Craig Mack, Faith Evans, 112, Total, The LOX, Ma$e, Shyne, and Carl Thomas.

The label has sold over 400 million records globally while earning at least 38 platinum and multi-platinum singles, according to a Complex report from 2016.


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Not only is he known as a Grammy winner today, but Diddy also reportedly became Hip-Hop’s third billionaire along the way.

For more on his business moves, check out this previous article.