It was Puff Daddy’s house last night. And Puff Daddy & the Family turned the New Orleans Superdome into one big house party during their epic ESSENCE Festival finale.
Making his ESSENCE Festival debut, Puff Daddy was joined by Bad Boy family members Mase, 112, Faith Evans and French Montana—as well as surprise guests Fabolous and Marsha Ambrosius—during a set that had everyone on their feet, dancing in the aisles and by their seats. Even security was rocking to the string of hits that Puff Daddy & the Family threw down.
Decked out in all black everything—save for his massive gold chain—Puff Dady took the stage solo at the beginning of the show. He pumped up the crowd with hits like “Bad Boy for Life," demonstrating that he was just that.
But it was when the first Family member, Mase, joined Puff onstage that the party really got turned up. Wearing a gold-and-black bomber—and still flashing those dimples with that killer smile—Mase rolled back the clock to his ’90s heyday, as he and Puff delivered the one-two punch of “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” and “Been Around the World.” With their bromantic chemistry, the pair showed that they still make a dynamic duo after all of these years.
Then the R&B quartet 112 hit the stage to drop some smooth crooning—and dance moves—on the crowd with hits like “Peaches & Cream.” But the show reached its second peak when Faith Evans came out to represent the ladies. Starting with “You Used to Love Me,” she really took the Sunday night finale to church with “Soon as I Get Home.”
Puff joined Evans onstage to playfully warble a bit of that Faith ballad, then told the crowd, “It would be no Bad Boy if it wasn’t for the First Lady of Bad Boy.” And Evans earned every single bit of that praise during her mini-set.
Next up was French Montana, who joined Puff for a moment of ESSENCE Festival empowerment: “We here to celebrate Black excellence. We here to bring you up,” they said to all the ladies in the crowd.
Mase returned to deliver solo hits “Feels So Good” and “What You Want,” but then it was another Bad Boy family member, the late Notorious B.I.G., who made an appearance—in spirit, at least. The Biggie medley included hits like “One More Chance,” “Juicy” and “Hypnotize,” as Puff Daddy made sure to keep Big Poppa’s presence alive.
That led perfectly into “I’ll Be Missing You,” as Puff and all of the night’s Family members were joined by a gospel choir to take us all home. “We lost a lot of heroes this year,” said Puff. But on this night, he proved that one of our heroes was still very much alive.