Robin Givhan on Diddy’s Demise: ‘Stunning to See’

by Xara Aziz
George Washington University

A new Washington Post Op-Ed is shedding light on the recent allegations against Sean “Diddy” Combs and the distinction between his private life compared to the person he has presented to the world.

In the piece, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer addressed his rise to fame in the 90s, akin to many pioneers in hip-hop’s early days, which brought the wealth associated with a burgeoning genre and its surrounding culture into the mainstream. While others often highlighted their street credibility, past incarcerations, or the hardships of their upbringing, Combs presented himself as a self-made hero. He adorned everything he touched with a Gatsby-like allure and exerted influence across various domains.

All of that took a turn in 2001 when the 54-year-old music mogul was charged with illegal gun possession and bribery after a shootout inside a New York City nightclub, where he was accompanied by his entourage and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez. He would later be acquitted and become one of hip hop’s shiniest stars – first as a music producer, rapper and record label exec, then as a fashion icon (Sean Jean), TV personality (Making the Band), and as brand ambassador for several products, including Cîroc and Deleon.

“Over and over Combs is described in the public sphere as a hip-hop mogul or producer or rapper. He is those things but he’s something more, too,” Givhan wrote. “He is a testament to the faith that green is the only color that ultimately matters in an America where being rich can sometimes make people look invincible. Is the road to great wealth inevitably strewn with the wounded, the disappointed, the cheated and the disillusioned? Is philanthropy simply a way of trying to make amends for all the pain?”

She continued: “The sight of law enforcement officers raiding Combs’s homes is startling because of the horrible allegations that brought them there — allegations that have caused businesses and organizations to sever their relationships with Combs. But the show of force also disrupts a revered idyll. Combs worked hard to cast his success as part of a sweeping American story, to have it considered in the same light as the titans of the Gilded Age whose names are carved on enduring institutions and the great inventors who changed our mode of transport and the ways in which we communicate,” but “tactical vehicles ripped through the gloss. They executed search warrants. So the world could see exactly what kind of hurt might lie below.”

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