Leave it to Sean “Diddy” Combs to go out in style.
Combs says he will leave his Puff Daddy and Diddy days behind him and retire from music following the release and tour supporting his upcoming album, “No Way Out 2.”
“I’m going to put out my last album and devote 100 percent of my time to doing films,” Combs told Cigar Aficionado magazine. “I want to stop at a great place . . . and a final album is a great place to stop. I want to take a victory lap, to do a world tour and really enjoy it once last time.”
That victory lap begins May 20 and 21 with the Bad Boy Family Reunion, as Combs brings together many of the artists from the Bad Boy Records roster at the Barclays Center, marking what would have been the late Notorious B.I.G.’s 44th birthday.
“This isn’t just another concert,” Combs said announcing the show. “This is hip-hop history. . . . The Bad Boy Family includes some of the biggest names in music and songs that helped define a whole generation of music. Also, we are celebrating one of the greatest of all time — Notorious B.I.G. This will be a night to remember.”
The night — which will feature Bad Boy hitmakers like Lil’ Kim and Mase, as well as Jay Z and Mary J. Blige — will be a throwback to the days when the Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy took over the music industry.
In the ’90s, Biggie’s string of hits starting with “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” launched the East Coast rap style, which competed with the West Coast rap of 2Pac and N.W.A. for control of both hip-hop and the top of the pop charts.
Biggie and Puffy opted for a flashier style — the shiny suits, the big jewelry — to offset the grittier tales of life in Brooklyn, creating not just a sound that was in demand, but a look as well.
After Biggie’s murder in 1997, Combs regrouped and released his own album “No Way Out,” which went gold in its first week, and a tribute to Biggie called “I’ll Be Missing You” that became the first hip-hop song to debut at No. 1, staying there for 11 weeks. It was eventually pushed from No. 1 by The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous hit with Puff Daddy, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
In 1997, Puff Daddy held the No. 1 spot for 19 weeks with three of his singles, including his debut “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” which showed off the Bad Boy style of taking ’80s pop samples and turning them into hip-hop anthems.
It’s that era that Combs wants to celebrate with the Bad Boy Family Reunion as well as his expected international tour next year.
Though many of Bad Boy’s artists went on to leave the label and collaborate with others, most seem happy to pay tribute to the era that gave them their start.
“I’m in my comfort zone when I’m with my Bad Boy family,” Lil Kim recently told Billboard. “We have such an organic, natural connection when we’re onstage. It’s perfect, it’s fun. It’s just second nature to me.”
Combs has been planning his exit from music for a while. In November, he released his “MMM” album as a birthday surprise, calling it “a thank-you to my fans and is just the beginning, a prelude to what will be my final album, ‘No Way Out 2.’ ”
Though he has long split his time between his fashion lines, his acting career both on Broadway and in films, Combs has recently been focusing more and more on what he sees as his final album and his musical legacy.
“When I’m gone, only the songs will survive,” Combs told Cigar Aficionado for the magazine’s June issue. “I know I’m making music that will live on. I don’t go into the studio just to be hot or to hear myself on the radio. Michael Jackson, Tupac, Biggie — part of them lives on in their music, even though they’re not here anymore. That’s really deep, man. The only thing like that is religion.”