Diddy says that 2006 is the year he will step up to the plate and get Bad Boy back on track.
"Right now, our focus is breaking new talent, new artists," he said last week in New York. "The future of the label is, we're gonna take it spin by spin, single by single, album by album and make sure we rebuild the empire in the right way. We're honest with ourselves that we have not performed at the level that we're supposed to perform at, for champions. We're like the New York Yankees and we should get judged on that. If we don't win the World Series, that's a failure to us. And so that's the way we're doing it — but we're not doing a lot of talking, we're doing a lot of action."
The year is starting off on a good foot for Bad Boy, though: The posthumous Notorious B.I.G. collection, Duets: The Final Chapter, is approaching platinum status and will be the first Bad Boy album to reach that million-plus plateau in some time. Diddy also has some fire in his belly, having inked a reported $30 million deal last year to sell half of the label to Warner Music Group.
The label's second-biggest seller, Diddy himself, has been working on his forthcoming LP for years and says 2006 might be the right time to put it out — if it's right.
"I'm in the studio right now, making my album," he said. "I'm in the studio with Pharrell, with Kanye, with Timbaland, Pharoahe Monch, Jay-Z, Nas. It's coming along real ill. I'm loving it. [Producer] Mario Winans, my whole Hit Men crew, we're on it. I'm about to go out to L.A. and rock with Will.I.Am for a minute. I've been really taking my time with this album and trying to do something different than I've done musically before.
"Without a doubt I got some of the craziest, sickest tracks that are out there on the marketplace today," he continued. "I have put a lot of producers through the mill. Me and Pharrell have worked for two years just trying to find songs. There are some producers who are hating me, but they understand that I am a perfectionist, and we go way back so it ain't no love lost. It's just that I'm looking for something special."
How special? Diddy says he had first dibs on the tracks that became Pharrell's "Can I Have It Like That" and Kanye's "Crack Music," but he has no regrets. "I feel like in order for me to have an impact on the game — if I do decide to put out this album, because the only way I'm going to put it out is if I feel it will have an impact — I gotta come with something that's so special, or no one's gonna go out and buy it. It's gotta be something that's shaking things up and something that feels good."
Other acts coming out on the label this year include B5, 8ball and MJG, the girls from "Making the Band 3," new R&B singer Cherri Dennis and another new lady, 16-year-old pop-rocker Jordan McCoy. There are also three MCs: Ness from Da Band, Aasim from Queens and Los from Baltimore. (No release dates for any of these artists have been announced.)
Moving on to one of his other major business ventures, Diddy recently launched a cologne called Unforgivable. He was up in arms last week because some retail stores across the country refused to run the fragrance's original ad, which depicted Diddy on a bed with two women. Diddy said he was hoodwinked into changing his ad for some outlets.
"I think I was a little bit bamboozled," he said. "I got the call that we were getting some resistance in department stores in general, like around Bible Belt and across the nation." He said that, being new to the fragrance industry, he initially did not fight the switcheroo and scrambled to change it to meet shipping deadlines.
"Then I got forwarded more information," Diddy said. "A lot of people were sending us different pictures and the campaigns were a little bit more risqué than ours. And it was a little bit upsetting after seeing that. But we're gonna fight now — we're gonna fight to get the picture back in the department stores. And also, going forward, we're gonna do what we wanna do to represent the fragrance. The fragrance is Unforgivable: It's all about having an unapologetic attitude, believing who you are, being confident."