Nearly twenty-five years after it was founded, hip-hop aficionados can’t say enough about the impact Bad Boy Records had on the world. In addition to launching the careers of Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Faith Evans and many more— it also set a tone of glamour and loyalty in the business. While the men of the label are often talked about, the women involved were just as vital.
This Toronto native first met Combs at an audition for Heavy D. “My heart wasn’t in contemporary dance,” she told Fader. An Alvin Ailey-trained dancer, she went on to work with almost all of Bad Boy Records’ artists for shows and music videos. “I was pulled to hip-hop, which was the freedom I wanted, my voice. So I left Alvin Ailey, and I ended up then going on the road with Mary J. Blige.”
In addition to shaping the image of hip-hop icons DMX, Jay Z and Missy Elliot, Ambrose is known for her unforgettable work with Bad Boy. The stylist worked with a plethora of talent on the label to give them her signature glamorous style. One standout look was from 1997’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” music video.
While she’s known as Notorious B.I.G.’s wife, Evans was a force by herself, as Bad Boy’s first female solo artist to sign to the label. Her highest selling albums Faith (1995), Keep the Faith (1998) and Faithfully (2001) were all done during her time with Combs.
Mary J. Blige
Despite being signed to Uptown Records alongside Jodeci, Heavy D and Al B. Sure!, Blige has always been close to the Bad Boy family. Her debut album What’s the 411? was executive produced by Combs and she did several songs with artists on the iconic label.
The women of Total met and sang for Combs through the mother of Diddy’s godson. He signed them to the label soon after meeting them, changing the course of their lives forever. “I remember when we got the call later on that night,” Keisha said. “So, Total, BIG and Craig Mack were the first artists that he signed to Bad Boy. And the rest is history.”
Before Kimberly Denise Jones was completely changing the perception of feminism in pop culture, the Brooklyn-bred rapper was a teen member of Junior Mafia. Never signed directly to Bad Boy Records, her affiliation with the label was through her rap group and friend/lover Notorious B.I.G.
Before he was a music executive, Hylton-Brim knew Combs as her high school sweetheart. In addition to sharing Combs’ first biological child (Justin, above), she was a Bad Boy stylist in the ’90s, working closely with Lil Kim and Faith Evans— whom she still works with today.
Initially signed to NextSelection Lifestyle Group, the singer was a model before venturing into music. Her first album in 2005 was produced by Ryan Leslie, but she slowly transitioned over to Bad Boy Records through an imprint deal. She’s still signed as a Bad Boy artist and has been dating Combs for nearly a decade.
Before releasing her 2008 album, Denis had been working with Bad Boy artists for years. While her solo project didn’t do well, her Ryan Leslie-produced single “I Love You” is a classic Bad Boy uptempo track.
Diddy — Dirty Money
The now defunct group consisting of Combs, Richard and Harper got together in 2007. Trained at cello, Harper was a music writer before joining the group that combined singing with melodic rapping. Richard, who is now a solo artist, was previously a part of Bad Boy’s Danity Kane group.