Diddy

The biggest hip-hop impresario of the mid-'90s, Sean Combs -- known as Puff Daddy until his professional name change to P. Diddy, then just Diddy -- created a multi-million-dollar industry around Bad Boy Entertainment, with recordings by the Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans, 112, and Total all produced and masterminded by Combs himself. Responsible for over $100 million in total record sales and named ASCAP's 1996 Songwriter of the Year, Combs was, on the other hand, criticized by many in the hip-hop community for watering down the sound of the underground and also for a perceived over-reliance on samples as practically the sole basis for many of his hits. A very successful A&R executive at Uptown Records during the early '90s responsible for sizable hit records by Father MC, Mary J. Blige, and Jodeci, Combs formed his own Bad Boy label, signed B.I.G., Evans, and Mack, and earned enough hits to cement an alliance with Arista Records. A highly publicized feud with Death Row Records (in which Tupac Shakur and label head Suge Knight served as West Coast/Dark Side equivalents to the Notorious B.I.G. and Combs) was summarily ended in late 1996, when Shakur was murdered and Knight jailed. Six months later, the Notorious B.I.G. was dead as well, and after Combs mourned his friend's death, he hit the pop charts in a big way during his biggest year, 1997.