Fifteen years ago this month, Making the Band 2 made its glorious debut on MTV. The series followed hip hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs as he put together the ultimate hip hop group, Da Band. The group included Sara Stokes, Dylan Dilinjah, Frederick "Freddy P" Watson, Rodney "Chopper" Hill, Lloyd "Ness" Mathis, and Lynese "Babs" Wiley.
For viewers, Da Band holds a special place in our hearts. And, the group’s now infamous trek to Junior’s to fetch Diddy a slice of cheesecake has gone down as one of the most iconic moments on television. Stokes and Dilinjah spoke to ESSENCE about the television moment.
Reflecting on the task, Dilinjah remembers it as Diddy’s way of testing the group to see how far they were willing to go to sign with the hip hop mogul.
"Puffy was free-styling," Dilinjah tells ESSENCE. "He knew what he was doing, but he was free-styling and coming up with different fraternal stuff to do. Like stuff that fraternities would do in order to break you down to build you up."
"My initial reaction was like, 'Huh?' I didn't know what Juniors was," Stokes adds. Originally from Detroit, Stokes was unaware of just how long the trek would be. "All I saw was Babs saying 'If I walk to Brooklyn I might as well go home.' She was pissed. I'm not from New York so I had no idea why Babs and Dylan were like, 'WHAT!' After I found out what he meant, I just looked at it like a big ass workout." And, while the group members walked across the Manhattan Bridge, Chopper ran because of a fear of heights.
Both Stokes and Dilinjah add that cabs, subways, and even "catching a ride from a friend" were prohibited, but the group wasn't alone as they walked to Brooklyn. "We had fans and family members that were walking with us, as well as the camera crew, the directors, the producers," Dilinjah says. "Every single person had to walk."
"I felt bad for the camera crew because they filmed us the whole way there and back with 30-pound cameras on their shoulders. They were sweating and looked super mad," Stokes adds.
While on camera it may have seemed like the group was upset about the miles-long journey for cheesecake, "it was jokes" according to Dilinjah.
"Let's not get it twisted. Yes, we were angry in the beginning and I felt a little disrespected because I didn't understand the bigger goal and the purpose, but of course I didn't," he says. "This is literally a group of juvenile delinquents not knowing anything about the industry and you just told them to do a journey where you knew the bigger goal, you knew the reason, but we had no idea. So yes, we was wilin'. We went from being angry the first two minutes, to us just having a lot of fun. We definitely cracked up and made jokes the whole walk."
Da Bands arrived at Junior's just before it closed, but had to run back for a second slice of cheesecake after dropping the first,"They turned the lights off and were closing," Stokes remembers. "They decided to let us back in and buy another one." However, when the group returned to the studio, triumphant and tired, Diddy was nowhere to be found.
"When Diddy was gone when we finally got back to the studio I wanted to cry," Sara says. "Honestly, my feet felt broken and my knees felt like all the cartilage was gone. My hands were frozen on the cheesecake I was holding. I ended up getting one for myself, though, and I still have the shoes that I walked to Brooklyn."
Dilinjah, however, didn't have to face an empty studio when he returned to Manhattan. "When we did get to Junior's finally, everyone was tired as hell and I ordered a double shot of Hennessy, and after my double shot of Hennessy I left. I went to the hotel and I relaxed. I didn't walk back, I took a cab. This man said to walk to, he didn't say to walk back."
Stokes and Dilinjah have since moved on from picking up cheesecake for hip hop moguls. Dilinjah's newly released Pain 2 Power is up for Grammy consideration and Stokes has released two singles, "Fragile Heart" and "Sneak Peek" featuring Babs, and is currently working on a documentary.
Stokes adds, "He never said thank you, but I guess my thank you was a record deal. That's the best thank you."