“Don’t worry if I write rhymes/I write checks”
The infamous Puffy line from Bad Boy for Life, although dragged thru the mud, sums up Puffy’s place in Hip-Hop perfectly. To say he started from the bottom will make Drake’s story look like a smurf’s tale. Drake is a rapper and most rappers started from the bottom, but Puffy’s story is one of true hustle.
We know the story of how he started as an intern for Andre Harrell and then started Bad Boy Records. But, while debating his legacy where would you place Puffy at in terms of his impact on Hip-Hop?
I’m kind of in the middle. In all fairness, he did bring us Biggie but we never got to see what their union could really accomplish due to Biggie’s death. He dropped two albums but only got to celebrate one before his passing. Then we had the whole MA$E era, were Hip-Hop had turned into a commercial success and Puffy was the ring leader of that era. Shiny suits, more R&B led hooks but he made a ton of money during that time.
But for every MA$E, there was a Black Rob, G-Dep, L.O.X. or Lil Kim. While those artist had a few hits it was never enough as Puffy was forced to either drop them or each artist decided to leave. As an executive, his track record is spotty at best. If you wanted a hit, he was your man, if you wanted longevity, look elsewhere.
As a rapper, he was more Nick Cannon than Jay-Z but the true essence of Puff was done on the business side. Even with the death of Biggie, Bad Boy still achieved success. All the above mentioned had hits but he also dabbled in R&B with Faith Evans, Total, and Carl Thomas. But if you dig deeper he was the main reason we also had Jodeci, Missy Elliott, and Mary J Blige. Puffy had his hands everywhere. But when Biggie died his focus on Hip-Hop just wasn’t the same.
Puffy entered the business world, not like the one he had with Bay Boy but he expanded and took Hip-Hop with him. He achieved, where moguls like Master P and Suge Knight couldn’t. He started a very successful clothing line, Sean John, opened a restaurant, Justin’s, started his own liquor line, Ciroc and began acting, Monster Ball.
Puffy was everywhere. It may seem he left Hip-Hop behind but he didn’t. Puff was able to do what so many other moguls were scared of. He took a chance and it worked. Hip-Hop is like working for the city or state. You pick those jobs for security reasons then look to retire after a certain amount of years. Puffy grew up, he wanted more for himself and his kids. Was he supposed to keep making beats and dancing in videos until he was 60?
His time in Hip-Hop was well-spent but people tend to look at him in terms of rapping and for what reason? Puffy is a businessman, a producer and a walking PR Firm all in one. What he did for the game was forever change it.