Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs gets key to New York, says Biggie would be proud: ‘He’d probably be crying’
NEW YORK — “Let’s go.” “Can’t stop, won’t stop.” “Come on.” “Get in your bag, stay in your bag.” “Let’s work.”
For Diddy, the Harlem native whose impenetrable hustle is embedded into his DNA and woven into every moment of his three decades of music from his lyrics to his motivational ad-libs, this moment was destined. Sean Combs – or Diddy or P. Diddy or Puffy or Puff Daddy or Love, depending on your generation – received the key to New York City from Mayor Eric Adams in Times Square on Friday.
“I’m a New York boy, and I just got to key to the city, and everything is just a little surreal right now,” he says, still on a high from the ceremony.
The rapper, businessman, fashion designer and music exec – who revolutionized hip-hop with his work at Uptown Records and his creation of Bad Boy Records, and brought sampling mainstream – is “having one of those great days,” he says, as this moment converges with his “Love Album” rising on the iTunes charts.
The new record, his first solo album since 2006’s “Press Play,” his first studio album since 2010’s collaborative Diddy – Dirty Money “Last Train to Paris” and his first musical project since 2015’s mixtape “MMM (Money Making Mitch),” is a true R&B album and has a laundry list of features including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, French Montana, Fabolous, Teyana Taylor and Ty Dolla $ign.
“God blessed me with a second chance at life,” Diddy says, “I’ve decided there’s another mountain for me to conquer. I’m looking for the next era in my life, and that’s the love era. That’s really being a unifier, fighting for radical change and making some beautiful music for people to feel good to.”
“The bad body of entertainment is getting the key to the city from the bad boy of politics,” Adams said while introducing Diddy, who in his speech encouraged people to manifest what they want out of life. “You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let nobody stop you! Nothing can stop you. Change your reality, dream bigger and bolder and spread love.”
After stepping off the platform to debut a song from the new record, he takes pictures with Adams and the key before addressing the small group of press gathered backstage. “I’m sweating in front of the mayor,” he says with a laugh, as Yung Miami helps wipe the sweat from his brow with a towel and his team passes him water and a fan.
“The moment is so big,” Diddy says. “You see it in movies, but you really don’t imagine … getting the key to the city of New York. And so it’s just like I’m living in a movie right now. And it just feels like I’m living a dream, and it feels beautiful.”
“When I look back at my contribution to music, I look at it as a celebration,” Diddy says. “That’s all I ever wanted to do is make you dance, make you sing, make you feel good. And so in the 50 years of hip-hop, that’s my biggest blessing – and just seeing how global hip-hop has become.”
Alongside victory, loss has also permeated Combs’ life. He’s mourned the shooting deaths of his father Melvin and close friend Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, as well as the death of his long-term partner and mother to three of his children, Kim Porter.
But he’s in reflection mode, with a song on the album featuring Babyface and John Legend that’s dedicated to Porter, and thoughts now of what Biggie Smalls might think of the momentous occasion.
“What would Biggie say about me getting the key to the city? He would be very proud. He’d probably be crying,” Diddy says. “Because it means so much to us. For me, when I get out of here, I’m definitely going to have a good cry. I will have a good, happy cry, because it really means a lot. I have New York tattooed on both of my arms. That’s how much I love New York.”