Why Sean "Diddy" Combs is sharing the Love in Dubai
Ahead of Diddy's gig tonight in Dubai, the American rapper and hip-hop mogul spoke to Esquire Middle East before his gig at the brand-new superclub Gotha.
ESQUIRE: So, let’s get the tough stuff out the way first. What do your friends call you?
Sean Combs: My friends call me Puff.
ESQ: Puff Daddy; P. Diddy; Puffy; Diddy; why has your name changed so much over the years?
SC: It’s really been part of my evolution. Being an artist, they represent the different changes I went through as an artist. They’re stage names. They’re nicknames. They’re personas. They have moves and vibrations. My closest friends call me Love, though.
ESQ: Tell us where the name ‘Love’ comes from?
SC: Most of friends call me love. I believe in putting your dreams out there and manifesting your desires of what you’re going to achieve. That’s my ultimate dream, to become a reflection of love and have a positive effect on people. But still be able to have fun, you know, like love does.
ESQ: So where does Puff come from then?
SC: Can’t tell you that. No, definitely can’t tell you that.
ESQ: How do introduce yourself to people? Rapper, artist, producer, businessman?
SC: Me? I’ve never really defined myself, so I don’t really introduce myself in that way. When I introduce myself, I make sure my name speaks for itself.
ESQ: What does influence mean to you?
SC: Influence is power. You have to reckon it can mean different things to different people, but if you don’t recognise that it’s pure power then you may play with it and not take it seriously. You need to handle the responsibility that comes with the power of influence.
ESQ: Who influences you?
SC: My whole life it’s really just been my mother. You know, Michael Jordan, Kobe [Bryant], Magic [Johnson], Stokely Carmichael, my mother, my kids. I said Muhammad Ali, right? Yeah, Muhammad Ali. And Nelson Mandela.
ESQ: It’s not just a single person then?
SC: I had to make sure if I was going to get inspired, I had to get everything I could from the best.
ESQ: What was the last great album you listened to?
SC: “Black Panther” [by Kendrick Lamar] was an incredible work. It took hip-hop to its limitations, and hip-hop would be proud of the evolution. If hip-hop was looking, it would be proud of what Kendrick did with “Black Panther”.
ESQ: What musician are you championing right now?
SC: French Montana is signed to Bad Boy [Records]. Janelle Monáe is signed to Bay Boy. Machine Gun Kelly is signed to Bay Boy. And my son King Combs. And also, Cassie. That’s who I’m really excited about right now, the artists I’m signing to my label.
ESQ: What’s the one track you always play that gets the best reaction?
SC: I’d say “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
ESQ: You still enjoy playing it?
SC: Yeah, I still enjoy being on stage. I still enjoy playing for people who have supported me for so many years.
ESQ: How would you describe your personal style?
SC: Black rich. I had to come up with a name for it and I was thinking there was nothing that could really fully engulf my style so it’s ‘black rich’. Yeah, black rich, it’s the closest thing to chic.
ESQ: What’s your go-to item in your wardrobe?
SC: The classic black tuxedo.
ESQ: What’s your morning ritual?
SC: When I wake up, I pray, then I meditate. Before my touch the floor, I give thanks, otherwise I don’t let feet my touch the floor.
ESQ: Who is the most famous person in your phone?
SC: Oprah Winfrey. I really tried to think of somebody bigger and I don’t think I can.
ESQ: We know you like to party, but how do you like to relax?
SC: You know what I do when I really want to relax? I go to the spa. I go to a Russian bathhouse and I have me a little cold cleanse and a dry heat combination for like three hours. I just let go and disconnect.
ESQ: Do you have any big projects coming up?
SC: Right now, I’m building a super team. I’m really looking for the best, the brightest, the most disruptive and the smartest talent around. From the executives to the creatives to people in finance.
ESQ: Can you tell us who any of these people are?
SC: I’m actually on the hunt, so it’s exciting trying to go from finding the best singer in the ratpack to finding the next best young executive talent that really is at a high level of performing. That’s my big project and I’m building the super teams of the future to take hold of my enterprises.
Diddy performs at Gotha in Dubai. April 5. Dhs350 (ladies), Dhs700 (gents). 11pm-3am. Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, Business Bay (04 513 9008).