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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: The Curse of Puff Daddy

As Bad Boy Records celebrates its 20th anniversary, Robbie recounts the rise and fall of some of Diddy's disciples

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The fate of Bad Boy Records closely mirrors that of the record industry in general, in that the last time they scored a platinum plaque was back in 2008 with the second Danity Kane album. While the ‘Shiny Suit’ era was spurned by many ‘underground’ rap fans of the day, in retrospect it’s become clear that they created music that captured the spirit of the day and is still a billion times more enjoyable than anything involving Talib Kweli or The Last Emperor. Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, it seems like an opportune time to look back at the label’s finest moments (beyond the storied Notorious B.I.G.) when Daddy’s House was in its prime.

01. Black Rob

Best remembered for his supremely addictive hit ‘Woah’, Black Rob proved to be the most lyrically gifted signee to Bad Boy after Christopher Wallace. Having spent some time in the bing with Trag in the eighties, B.R. was blessed with a similar knack for slick wordplay and atmospheric storytelling, while adding his own unique brand of Uptown attitude to make for many a memorable performance. While his career derailed thanks to sample clearance fuckery and another stretch in the pokey for stealing jewellery and TVs from a hotel, he continues to deliver the goods anytime he’s within the vicinity of microphone.

02. Craig Mack

Thanks to a timeless Easy Mo Bee track, Mack took the rap world by storm with ‘Flava In Ya Ear’ and delivered a slightly less amazing remake with ‘Get Down’ before underwhelming everybody with a really boring album. Despite being part of the starting line-up with Biggie, it quickly became clear that Craig was entertaining but lacked the versatility and cross-over appeal that his morbidly obese BK buddy soon exhibited, and soon saw himself excommunicated from the crew to languish in indie white-label obscurity.

03. G-Dep

Part of the second wave of Bad Boy with Black Rob, Dep helped Diddy reclaim some major rap cred but failed to set the charts on fire. After being dropped from his five album deal with Bad Boy he fell victim to a PCP habit and resumed the life of crime he’d lived during his younger days. He served some time at Riker’s Island before confessing to a 1993 murder in 2010 for which he was sentenced to 15 years.

04. Mase

Following a stint in Children of the Corn with Big L and Cam’Ron, Biggie’s road manager introduced Mase to Puffy and he was quickly brought into the fold, going on to personify the excesses of the label with his enormously successful Harlem World LP in 1997. After his second album in 1999, Mase quit rap to become a pastor for five years until he returned to rap over the theme to Welcome Back Kotter. After a stint with G-Unit, Mase announced a new album in 2013 which still hasn’t been released.

05. Loon

AKA notorious Bad Boy goon who dropped his debut album in 2003 before following up with two indie releases in 2006 which are most notable for featuring diss tracks aimed at his former Harlem World buddy Mase and Dipset capo/Love and Hip-Hop star Jim Jones. After retiring from rap to dedicate his life to Islam in 2009, Loon was unfortunately convicted on some old heroin distribution charges and was sentenced to a 14-year bid.

06. The LOX

Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Looch made their bones as Yonkers’ mixtape mavericks The Warlox before they signed with Puff and were taken under Biggie’s wing. After enduring the humiliation of having to release a song titled ‘If You Think I’m Jiggy’ they began throwing chairs at Mr. Combs until he released them from their contract, before reinventing themselves at D-Block and enduring to this day as take-no-shorts rapper dudes who enjoy a health shake as much as a mean 16.

07. Shyne

Perhaps the ultimate fall guy out of the lot, Shyne withstood accusations of biting B.I.G. before taking the fall for a date night between Sean Combs and Jennifer Lopez that went horribly wrong. After serving nine years of his 10-year bid, Shyne was left to hang out to dry by his former boss and deported to Belize, putting the nix on negotiations with Def Jam and Cash Money Records. Last that was heard of Shyne found him living in Jerusalem as a Hasidic Jew, claiming he spends ’12 hours a day studying the Torah’.

In summary, it’s clear that fucking with Puff will either lead you to religion, jail, or both. Make of that what you will.