Labor Day turned out to be a great day for Bad Boy artists. According to multiple sources, Sean “Diddy” Combs allowed publishing rights to revert to his roster of Bad Boy hitmakers, including the estate of The Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans and Ma$e.
“Combs sees it as part of a broader goal of promoting economic empowerment for Black artists and culture,” a source confirmed to Rolling Stone.
This all comes ahead of Diddy releasing The Love Album: Off the Grid on Sept. 15, his first solo project in 17 years. Guest stars include H.E.R., Babyface, Coco Jones, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and a whole lot of other prominent artists.
Given current artist publishing evaluations – which have led legacy artists like Philadelphia International Records founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and rock stalwarts like Bob Dylan to sell their catalogs for multiple millions, the deal could net some of the Bad Boy artists involved a lot of money.
Diddy is said to have been working out the deals since 2021. A source told RS that Diddy considers the deal so “unprecedented” that it may change artist compensation in the future. They say paperwork has already been completed with Biggie’s estate, the Lox, Ma$e, and Faith Evans.
One of Diddy’s most outspoken critics was Ma$e, who starred on hits with him and The Notorious B.I.G. on “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “Been Around the World,” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” the latter two songs which went to No. 1. In 2020, after the Recording Academy honored Diddy with an Industry Icons award, Ma$e had his say in a since-deleted Instagram post.
“Your past business practices knowingly has continued purposely starved your artist and been extremely unfair to the very same artist that helped u obtain that Icon Award on the iconic Badboy label,” Mase wrote. “This is not black excellence at all,” he continued, referencing Diddy’s speech, where he said the RIAA didn’t properly acknowledge the contributions of R&B and Hip-Hop artists. “When our race is enslaving us. If it’s about us owning, it can’t be about us owning each other.”
Ma$e alleged that after getting just $20,000 for his publishing originally, Combs refused a $2 million buyout for his publishing, and Diddy countered, saying that Ma$e owed him $3 million for an album that never came out on Bad Boy.
While neither man has publicly commented, it appears that Ma$e did receive his publishing per a post from Cam’ron congratulating his fellow Harlem-based rapper.
He was the sole owner of most of his music copyrights as the songwriter and producer on the majority of his recordings. That led his estate to an ultimate valuation of $156 million, after a six-year legal battle as he died in 2016 with no will.
Now, because of him and others, artists are more savvy about the value of their recorded work, particularly with lucrative sync rights, when songs are used in everything from commercials to video games to TV shows. In 2022, singer/songwriter Kate Bush scored a No. 1 hit with “Running Up The Hill,” originally recorded in 1985. The song was used in the popular Netflix show Stranger Things and is said to have netted the British artist millions.
Diddy certainly knows how much just one song can be worth. His reworking of “Every Breath You Take,” Sting’s iconic song for “I’ll Be Missing You” in 1997, made Sting even richer. A video resurfaced from The Breakfast Club earlier this year where Sting said he was making $2,000 a day from the song. Diddy corrected that by saying $5,000, then said he was “joking” but that Sting was likely making even more.
In 2003, Sting told Rolling Stone, “Elton John told me, ‘You gotta hear [“I’ll Be Missing You”], you’re gonna be a millionaire!’ I said, ‘I am a millionaire!’ He said, ‘You’re gonna be a millionaire twice over!’ I put a couple of my kids through college with the proceeds, and me and P. Diddy are good pals still.”
See how social media’s reacting to Diddy signing over publishing to artists below.