In a rare move apparently themed for Labor Day, Bad Boy Records founder Sean “Diddy” Combs has “decided to reassign his Bad Boy publishing rights back to all Bad Boy artists and writers who helped build Bad Boy into the powerhouse it is today,” a source close to the situation confirmed to Variety on Monday.
The artists in question include the Notorious B.I.G.’s estate, Faith Evans, Ma$e, the Lox, 112 and “many more” unspecified creators. Specific details were not immediately available but the assets are said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Those assets have increased dramatically in value in recent years as artists or estates representing the music catalogs Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Luther Vandross and many others have struck nine-figure deals selling or partially selling the rights to those catalogs. The source notes that Combs has received multiple multi-million dollar offers for the rights to the Bad Boy publishing catalog, but instead has decided to reassign the rights to the songwriters.
Mase, a multiplatinum-selling Bad Boy rapper who appeared with Combs on many songs, has often called out his former mentor over money allegedly owed; Combs said on the Breakfast Club last year that Mase actually owned him $3 million, a claim that Mase disputed aggressively. Mase said in 2020 that Combs had refused his $2 million offer for Mase’s publishing.
During the 1990s it was not uncommon for labels or label owners to take a percentage of an artist’s publishing as part of a recorded-music deal, although that syndrome has faded away as artists and songwriters become more aware of the value of their publishing rights.
“Combs sees it as part of a broader goal of promoting economic empowerment for Black artists and culture,” the source says.
Combs has a new album, “The L.O.V.E. Album: Off the Grid,” featuring Justin Bieber, the Weeknd, Swae Lee, Mary J. Blige and others, dropping Sept. 15.
Variety will have more on the situation as it develops.