Before becoming a mogul and icon as the founder of Bad Boy Entertainment in 1993, Diddy (real name Sean Combs) was a young man working under Andre Harrell at Uptown Records as an A&R. The businessman had a knack for scouting talent. However, in a 2006 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Diddy unveiled why he got fired from the label.
The Harlem-born businessman got recruited by Harrell due to his involvement in the Manhattan hip-hop scene. Although Combs only moved out of the deprived inner-city to the suburban region of Mount Vernon aged 12 because most of his family resided in Harlem, Combs spent much of his time in the African-American Manhattan neighbourhood.
Harrell taught a young Combs the music business, from producing to A&Ring, and he shot up the ranks of Uptown at lightning speed due to his ability to scout artists. However, there were many factors that led to his departure from Uptown.
In a 2006 conversation with Winfrey, Combs explained how, as a young man finding success in the music industry, he became very cocky, detailing, “The first record I produced sold two million copies — and I’d only produced it because the producer didn’t show up…at Uptown, I sold a huge number of records.”
He continued, “I was very passionate, and I didn’t understand protocol or workplace politics. So I got fired because there can’t be two kings in one castle. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to Andre, but I was fighting so hard. He wanted to be more diplomatic and to make sure everybody felt involved.”
Diddy admitted that with the music he produced and artists, he had discovered he wanted to have complete creative control, disregarded other people and their input and was so passionate about the music he forgot it takes a team to grow an MCs career successfully. He even went as far to disclose that getting fired was the best thing that happened to him as “It taught [him] not to get caught up in [his] own hype.”
Although Harrell let Diddy go, he still pays tribute to him for teaching him the ropes. At a 2020 pre-Grammy gala, the ‘Last Night’ rapper paid homage to the executive, declaring, “I want to take the time to thank Andre for being a big brother; for believing in me, I’m only standing up here because you gave me the chance, you gave me the opportunity.” He continued, “You taught me, and you talked to me, and you taught me about the game. You taught me what it means to be a record man, and you believed in me. You kept teaching me.”
You can hear Andre Harrell explain why he fired Diddy in the video below.