Photo: Scott Gries

F*ck a Name Change, P. Diddy Is My Favorite Sean Combs

Sean Combs. Puff Daddy. Puffy. The hip hop mogul, clothing impresario, Ciroc boy No. 1, and leader of the Revolt-o-lution has redefined himself in just about every era of our culture for over 20 years. When Combs thinks of a new moniker, it signifies an artistic evolution and personal growth. All of his different personalities represent a moment in time for his fans: from Shiny Suit Man to Big Homie, there’s a Puffy that connects with you.

On Combs’ 48th birthday, he shared a video of himself vacationing in Mexico with the Bad Boy family. He said he had a special announcement that he decided to change his name again for the fifth time. (If we are not counting Swag.) “I’m just not who I am before,” he says. “I’m something different, so my new name is ‘Love’ a.k.a. ‘Brother Love.’”

“I would not be answering to Puff, Diddy, Puff Daddy, any of my other monikers. But Love or Brother Love,” he added matter-of-factly, ending by thanking God and his parents.

Which is all well and good. But honestly, I’m more heated than the Mad Rapper. His other name is more John Blaze than that!

It’s a damn shame that he glossed over my favorite Sean Combs, P. Diddy. Sixteen years ago, Combs made a grand statement about shedding his former self as Puffy, a childhood name to describe when he got angry, he would “huff and puff.” After being acquitted on gun possession and bribery charges in March 16, 2001, Puff spoke with Sway Calloway about his name change. “No more Puff Daddy — the first week in June we’re gonna have a name change ceremony,” he said. “I’m not doing it as serious as Prince [but] I just want something fresh … I’m rockin’ with P. Diddy now — my man Biggie gave me that name.”

The P. Diddy era, which lasted from 2001 until he changed his name again to Diddy in 2005, was Combs projecting the many alter-egos he had to offer. There needed to be a clear distinction between his shiny suit days and spreading positive messages about all the dreams and fantasies he’s achieved. P. Diddy, who was in his early 30s, toned down the flashiness (in his visuals, anyway) for a more matured look. As seen in videos like G. Dep’s “Let’s Get It” and Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier Part II,” P. Diddy was the suave, elder statesmen, celebrating his wealth and health with his famous friends.

“There’s a way to do it so that’s not the only image they see. No matter what in life, there has to be balance,” Combs said about Bad Boy’s bling-bling era. “So I got to be responsible for my own image and making sure that it has balance and that you see the many sides of P. Diddy.”

P. Diddy defined the early 2000s. He invented the remix. He was the mastermind of Making the Band, putting together Danity Kane, Day26, and Da Band (shout out to the top five best rapper, Dylan). But above all, P. Diddy’s reinvention yielded the rawest and emotional music of his career, competing in the sleek and futuristic lane that Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and The Neptunes were in. Just about everyone knows “I Need a Girl, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2” by heart. Anthems like “Bad Boy for Life” (“Don’t worry if I write rhymes / I write checks”) and “Diddy” (“D-I-D-D-Y…”) showcased him rocking the mic with swagger that was undeniable.

In 2005, Combs dropped the P to keep it a smooth five-letters (Diddy) and lessen the confusion for his fans who were chanting “P. Diddy” and “Diddy” at his concerts. Although the use of Diddy was banned from the UK after agreeing on a settlement with London-based producer Richard ‘Diddy’ Dearlove, it didn’t stop him from using both names in America. Press Play (2006) and Last Train to Paris (2010) with Dirty Money were released under Diddy, delivering his sexy, sophisticated lifestyle on experimental, electro-hip-hop fusions “Last Night,” “Hello Good Morning,” “Coming Home,” and “Loving You No More” – all my personal favorites.

Combs would return to Puff Daddy in 2014 on the promotional single “Big Homie,” as he was gearing up to release his Paid In Full-inspired album, Money Makin’ Mitch, closing the influential Diddy chapter for good. Interestingly enough, Puff Daddy is actually his favorite of all his stage names. “He was just so free,” he told PEOPLE. “Everything was just so lovely, but then life came. Then he turned into Diddy. Then P. Diddy. Then Puff.”

I have to ask: What stage in life is Love in now?

Though 2017 has been dominated by the shitshow of the Trump presidency, Combs still found a way to thrive and shine with some notable wins. He topped Forbes’ Hip-Hop Cash Kings list with $130 million in earnings once again. He released his Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story documentary on Apple Music, which tracked the rise of the label and the success of the reunion shows at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Musically, Puff got in his bag when he dropped “Whatcha Gon’ Do” with Biggie and Rick Ross. He and Jeezy also paid homage to the Big Tymers on their club banger “Bottles Up,” signifying No Way Out 2 will be an intriguing last album. On social media, Combs is always inspirational, dropping motivational gems for aspiring black entrepreneurs and the youth. I mean, don’t these tweets make you want to do something with your life?

Using social media again, Combs made yet another announcement about Brother Love…he was actually joking. He must have been overwhelmed by the media and the backlash of taking Bruce Prichard’s character, Brother Love, who was a prominent personality in the WWE (formerly WWF) and The Undertaker’s first manager.

In the video posted on Instagram, he says, “I didn’t change my name. It is just part of my alter egos. One of my alter egos is Love. You can address me by any of my older names, but if you want to still call me Love, love baby.”

Good news: Diddy is back. Bad news: We’ll never get that Brother Love and Larry Florman collab.

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