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Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs: Do As I Say, Not As I Sing?

April 2, 2016

On March 28, 2016, the Los Angeles Times carried a piece about hip-hop artist Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, who with Connecticut charter school controversial figure, Steve Perry, is opening a charter school in Harlem, Capitol Prep Harlem. According to the Times, the school will be focused on social justice.

Here is what Combs says is his goal:

“I want to impact the lives of young people in my community, and build future leaders. The first step is offering access to a quality education,” Combs said in a statement. “All our children should be able to pursue their dreams.”

That sounds like a noble goal. However, there is a problem with the dissonance between Combs’ music and his future-leader, pursue-dreams, quality-ed goal:

It flies in the face of song lyrics that Combs helped to write– lyrics that contributed to his fame.

Consider the lyrics to “I Need a Girl,” released in 2001 as part of Combs’ “The Saga Continues” album. In his song, Combs glorifies a life of law breaking and exploiting “a girl” (not his wife, but another female) who will “lie for me” (even in the courtroom); “pay bail for me,” and even “do twenty-five for me.”

And there’s much more that Combs et al. want this girl to do.

Below are the song lyrics, in full, and unedited. Read them and think about how a man who could write such lyrics could possibly reconcile in his own mind that the students should just perhaps set those lyrics aside and focus on the noble goal of social justice. (Will it involve lying for him, even in court? Doing time for him?)

Puff Daddy – I Need A Girl (To Bella) Lyrics

I need a girl who’ll ride for me (Keep her self real fly)
Damn near die for me (Stand by my side)
Gon’ call for me (Stand up and cry)
Pay my bail for me, make sales for me
Have a baby with (This is what she’ll do)
Lie to industry (Be my baby momma too)
Someone who’ll never leave (And always be true)
How I wish my wife could be you

I need a girl that’ll ride for me
Situation get real bitch’ll die for me
Even step in the courtroom and lie for me
I’m talkin’ about right hand in the sky for me

Do twenty-five for me, nigga steal a pound for me
Shorty probably blow a nigga to the sky for me
And go and sit in a chair that’ll fry for me
And lord know if I die she gon cry for me

Never say bye to me
I can’t deny shorty love is official
Even though love ain’t the issue
Shorty still smuggle the pistol

Packin’ a gat then hug you and kiss you
Show you love when other niggas that diss you
You on the real
That’s the type chick a nigga need

The type smoke all a nigga’s weed
And still move at a nigga’s speed
Never a victim of a nigga’s greed
Especially if she runnin’ round with a nigga’s seed


[P. Diddy]
I had a girl that woulda died for me
Didn’t appreciate her so I made her cry for me
Everyday she had tears in her eyes for me
I caught a case shorty took the whole ride for me (Thank you)

At first we were friends then became lovers
You was more than my girl we was like brothers
On late nights we would play fight under covers
Now you gone can’t love you like I really want to

But every time I think about your pretty smile
And we used to drive the whole city wild
Damn I wish you woulda had my child
A pretty little girl with Diddy style

Shit is wild
Now these’s days that I reminisce
About my little mami I’ma always miss (I miss you)
But long as you happy I’ma tell you this

Ain’t nothin’ that’s broke that we can’t fix


Now I done seen chicks come and go
Some in it for the love some want the dough
But some of them confused and don’t really know
The difference between a woman and a silly ho

But on the low
I’m a tell you how it really be
‘Cause I be chillin’ where the young willies be
Strip clubs, sit buzzed spend twenty G’s
Shit bugged stick dubs where they titties be

[P. Diddy]
This nigga Diddy be chillin’ with the prauda mamis
Posted up with the chick with the hottest body
Yo shorty all on me little hot tamale
(But I’m ride for you Daddy) Then I got you mami

‘Cause all I want to do is take care of you
And do things that the playas ain’t prepared to do
Like if I rock ice you gon’ wear it too
Fuck wit me I have the whole world stare at you

You feel me girl?




And if you’re thinking, “2001 was so long ago. Perhaps Combs is different now,” consider these stellar, role-model lyrics from his 2015 release, “Finna Get Loose,” which includes glorifying hustling money and using drugs:

“Finna Get Loose” Lyrics

Sean Combs

A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh

Where you from, where that at
Where you heading, what is that
What you doing, feeling that
Get that fucking cake up, open your mind [?]
Keep your distance, unless you wanna get witnessed
Me and the renegade, Glock grenade, [?]
Chop it like sumo
Nigga hungry like Cujo
Smoking that Pluto
No ticking time like hand on the rope
Nigga feel beautiful
No park brake but a nigga in neutral

You wanna roast some bass, go and do that
You ain’t tryna pass, don’t do that
You gotta drink the mask, don’t do that
Finna act the ass, go and do that
Say what now

A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh

Get back down, get on up, get on her
This is what, truth feels like, so uncut
I’m in mode, on that cline, me rockin’ Montclair
White chick no hair, but what the black man yeah
I shine like this, luminesce spit get right right quick
This is good as it get, [?]
I only like hits, since PE and a nigga never miss
You see this black fist
The nigga come number one, [?]

You wanna roll some grass, go and do that
You ain’t tryna pass, don’t do that
You gotta drink the mask, don’t do that
Finna act the ass, go and do that
Say what now

A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh
A nigga finna get loose, huh

We out, remember me now?
Let’s dance
Yeah, yeah
I see you dance, all the dances you know what to do
I made this part for you and you and you and you and you and you, you, you, you!
Bad boy

Sure, those two songs could well influence children to become future leaders– but it won’t be in social justice.

Combs, no matter what you say in your school’s press releases, children will glorify the life you portray in your songs.

Think about that.



Coming June 2016 from TC Press:


school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → Charters, Steve Perry

  1. Donna Johnson permalink

    You greatly misrepresent Mr. Combs. He is not a person that I care much for personally, but he is a contemporary that I went to high school and college with, and have followed over the years. I feel the need to speak here — respectfully. This piece is egregious. You used two songs to sum up the totality of who Sean Combs is — one recent release and one from 2001, and you end your investigation there. I know that you have to know the difference between an artists’ stage persona and who they are off the stage. I’ve watched this man grow/evolve over the years. He is not perfect. No one is. He is, however, a father, a responsible citizen and business person. He has logged literally thousands of hours in community service, is generous with his charitable giving and his voter registration work in the past three (not two) elections is truly laudable. I don’t see anything about that in your piece. I also don’t see anything about the many artists and young business men and women that he has mentored, nor the work that he did to diversify the modeling industry so that more men of African ancestry could access the field. I have students who are currently benefitting from these efforts. It’s funny that you characterized Combs as a glorifier of violence and bad behavior, when anyone who knows the rap genre knows that he is the least of offenders and was often made fun of for it. Mr. Combs has never really been a hard core rapper. He has managed to remain above the muck for the most part, leaving profanity and gangster references out of much of his music, in an industry where profanity/sexism is almost a pre-requisite. He is a kid born in Harlem and raised in the suburb of Mt. Vernon (NY) by an immigrant mother, who is a college graduate and one of the hardest working corporate leaders out there. I do find Combs to be sexist, which is something that I’ve personally held against him, but I have seen some growth even in this area. I find it troubling that someone would be so full of hatred for the charter movement that they would demean a person’s character and pretend to know what his motives are, when they’ve never met the man and obviously don’t really know much about him. I have always had a great deal of respect for this blog. I really have. I don’t like unjustified character assassination though of any nature, about anyone, just to push one’s agenda. If your issue is strong, it should be able to stand without that. Peace.

    • How much feces should one allow in one’s dinner dish? A teaspoon or a cup?

      Combs assassinated his own character by producing these two songs.

      • Donna Johnson permalink

        This is your position on the issue. Really? As long as we hold this standard for everyone opening a school of any type, then ok. We really don’t though…

    • Dee permalink

      I wouldn’t be surprised of the Kardashian’s tried to open a school next. Kardashian Akademy.
      As long as Gulan is involved in our education system, the bar for bizarre shamelessness will be shockingly low. That is what is so offensive, that there is no standard. The charter school operators should be worried about this – it shows how anyone can do what they do.

      • Jake J. permalink

        To me, the greatest offense is opening a charter school instead of a public school. The last thing public education needs is competition for funding and resources because these are obviously perverse incentives. Here we see, like TV ads the enlisting of a popular celebrity to endorse a “product” and get attention. If Combs’ intentions are noble, he should answer the questions about charter schools cherrypicking and failing to serve comparable proportions of high needs.

        Going even further. NY’s charter law specifically states that all charters must have “special emphasis” on students “at risk of academic failure” which can only be interpreted as serving higher-than-average proportions of special needs children. This is a joke, of course, as NY’s charter schools serve far less than the district school average, using a rigged application process to weed out less-desirable families.

        Will Puffy address this, or will he be another Eva Moskowitz, opening “boutique schools” that have cream the most motivated families in the neighborhood?

  2. Jake J. permalink

    This reminds me of an interview in the 1980s with the pentagram-bedecked Nikki Sixx of Motley Crüe who was asked if he was really a Satan worshipper. He told the reporter it was all just a shtick to sell records. These rap moguls aren’t too different, trading on thug life imagery and street toughness when they actually sleep in satin pajamas in glass condos overlooking Beverly Hills.

    These rappers say we shouldn’t read too much into “poetry” or artistic license as advocacy for a lifestyle as opposed to portrayal of a narrative. I think it was Jay Z who said this, looking to rehab his image after being called out on vulgar, violent and misogynistic language in his past songs. Maybe it was an excuse, maybe a change of heart, but we wouldn’t even be having the conversation if he didn’t sell so many records.

    This said, I would also point out that other rappers like Chuck D of Public Enemy and KRS-One have always maintained that lyrics should be more socially conscious, respect women and watch what they say. Notice these guys kept their self-respect but didn’t make a fraction of what the gangster rappers made…

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Donna Johnson Says “he is the least of offenders and was often made fun of for it. Mr. Combs has never really been a hard core rapper. He has managed to remain above the muck for the most part, leaving profanity and gangster references out of much of his music, in an industry where profanity/sexism is almost a pre-requisite.” Not above the muck but deep into it in order to make money and trade on the worst of the worst images and messages for young people. Sorry. He chose to make has money by aggrandizing MUCK. Of course I have not read onor do I care to read all of his lyrics, but these two samples, and one fro 2015 make me ill, angry, and unwilling to give him the courtesy that you extend to him. The has been teaching the wrong lessons to kids.

  4. Derek permalink

    “Help me Ms.Johnson”, Mercedes, I am never amazed what lenghts and people the Devil will use to continue his agend. I can speak for my self, unlike many who somehow can speak for others. I nowII’m not perfect either. I appreciate your intentions here, and that among the touted praises of the rap industry wasn’t mentioned or will never be i assure you, but take heart that although you may try to protect and warn others, sometimes you will come up against pride in people and things that shouldn’t and wouldn’t exist except for the existence of pure evil. It is a fine line between information and condemnation speaking on certain issue that evolve certain people, I am sure your intentions are far more admirable than the person and the industry that Ms. Johnson speaks of. It is a real shame that swill permeates that industry at expense of many young impressionable minds and their dollars where ever they come from and to what good directions they go at the request of those so praised rappers. If those young minds had better examples in the beginning they might could skip giving their dollars to good uses by way of the misguided industry. “We will know them by their fruits”. Thank again, Mercedes. Keep your left up and may God bless you.

  5. “Social justice” is a code phrase for theft. Lyrics and school mission are consistent. Don’t be naive, Mercedes. He could have said his school mission is to Make More Marxists. Unfortunately that’s what the mission of most public teachers already is, though perhaps they don’t recognize it. At one point all schools were implicitly or explicitly Judeo-Christian in orientation. They should have stayed so.

  6. DONNA M JOHNSON permalink

     By the way. They’ve also announced that they are opening a school in New Orleans. 

    • Laura H. Chapman permalink

      Only in the charter industry can anyone buy a school and call it public.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider on Puff Daddy’s School | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. About That Steve Perry/Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs Capital Prep Harlem Partnership - Tech News
  3. About That Steve Perry/Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs Capital Prep Harlem Partnership – WORLD NEWS
  4. About That Steve Perry/Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs Capital Prep Harlem Partnership | Beatriz Simpkins

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