When Arctic Monkeys decided to form a band as teenagers from High Green in Sheffield, never in their wildest dreams did they think just a few years later they’d be sipping champagne at pool parties in Miami with P. Diddy. In another surreal turn, the rapper would even end up calling himself the ‘Fifth Arctic Monkey’, proving that life works in mysterious ways.
Back in 2009, when their paths first crossed, and a bromance blossomed. Arctic Monkeys were yet to break America despite being the most important band of the century in their native Britain. One of the first people to accept them across the pond was Diddy, who recognised something in them despite their vast differences, and a beautiful friendship would develop.
Seemingly, the two musical forces met at a party in Miami, where drummer and hip-hop head Matt Helders introduced himself to the rapper, not allowing himself to waste an opportunity to meet an icon of the genre. In a video he posted with Helders, Diddy proclaimed: “Yo, what’s up? It’s your boy Diddy. I am the newest member of the Arctic Monkeys. Now I’m not going to be singing. I’m not going to be playing any instruments, but I am part of the crew. I’m part of the Entourage. So if y’all fuck with the Arctic Monkeys then y’all got to fuck with me.”
Meanwhile, Helders said about the incident: “I managed to get face to face, and he just laughed it all off and said it was a coincidence. I believe him, we built up quite a lot of trust, and we got on like a house on fire”.
When Humbug was released later that summer, Diddy took it upon himself to alert the millions who follow him on Twitter social media, urging them to go out and buy the record. “Go get the Arctic Monkeys’ new album ‘Humbug‘!!!!!! Let’s go!!!!!” he wrote with enthusiasm.
However, the friendship didn’t end there. The following year, when Diddy was recruiting a drummer for his Dirty Money project, he knew that Helders was the only man for the job, and of course, the Arctic Monkeys man couldn’t refuse such a tempting offer. The rapper did make Helders change his alias to Rufus Black because he “didn’t wanna fuck up the great thing Matt’s got going on”.
“It is so strange that me and him are friends,” Diddy elaborated about the unlikely union in 2010. “Arctic Monkeys are so cool, you know? And people look at me as cool maybe as a person, but I don’t know if musically they look at me as the underground cool rock ‘n’ roll thing,” he added.
“As a drummer he’s definitely one of the most soulful I’ve ever worked with,” Diddy continued. “His pocket reminds me of a James Brown pocket. So funky and soulful. When he plays, I actually get goosebumps.”
Music has a habit of throwing up elaborate curveballs. Situations in which two artists – that seemingly have nothing in common on the surface – actually have much more that ties them together. See Helders perform with Diddy as Dirty Money on The Jonathan Ross Show, below.