For years, two words have been embedded in the minds of Sean Puffy Combs’ children: legacy and black excellence. For 20-plus years, Puffy has clotheslined his foes with his unprecedented success and titillating ideas. With his name already tattooed on the walls of music immortality, the Bad Boy luminary seems ready to pass the baton off to his offspring. For 19-year-old Christian “King” Combs, he’s ready to sprint his way to his dad’s ranks with his own bravado and steely bars.
After inking a deal with Bad Boy last year, King Combs has dazzled listeners with several of his releases, most notably, his “Paid In Full” freestyle. With a smooth flow reminiscent of Bad Boy legend, Ma$e, Combs shreds the Eric B and Rakim instrumental with his swaggering delivery. “I just cruise in drops and run around in expensive cars/ Uncle Phil how I switch the broads, now check this/ I be in Caribbean with my honeys, snow bunnies/ Rico, young ni–a with old money,” he cleverly raps.
In addition to his fruitful rap career, Combs is also flourishing on the fashion front. Earlier this year, he showcased his modeling prowess on the runway during Fashion Week for Dolce & Gabbana (for which he is now the face) and later, nabbed a deal to take part in Tommy Jeans’ Spring 2018 campaign. Proving to be dual-threat in both modeling and music, Combs appears primed and ready to walk in the enormous shoes of his father’s and dropkick any detractors standing in the way of his success.
Billboard spoke to King Combs about his new single “Love You Better” featuring Chris Brown, balancing modeling and music, the advantages — and disadvantages — of being Puff Daddy’s son, and more.
What’s your relationship with Chris Brown? I always wondered how you guys linked up for “Love You Better.”
It came about real organically. We was at French Montana‘s crib in Calabasas. Remy Ma was cooking. It was a classic night. They just got back from winning an award. Maybe it was BET Awards weekend? I don’t remember the exact dates, so I wouldn’t mark that down, but whatever. We was at the crib and we were in the living room. It was me and Chris Brown and he was playing me his Heartbreak on a Full Moon album and I was like, “Wow. This is fire.” Then I played him my mixtape, and he really liked the sound and the whole vibe I was going for.
He was like, “Yo I gotta hop on this. Let me get on that hook. This is crazy.” And I’m like, “Yeah. I can use this as my single. Let’s do it.” So then, two days after, he’s a man of his word. We went to the studio and he got in the booth and laid it down real quick. There was a lot of good vibes in the room. It looked like a party in the studio that night. He laid his hook and I was like, “Damn. That’s crazy. He really brings that real R&B feel to the track now.”
“Love You Better” samples Case’s “Touch Me, Tease Me” record. How important has it been for you to incorporate your love for the ’90s into the current times, especially with you only being 19?
It’s definitely been important to me and it really started from not really having beats and trying to find my own sound. So I was just listening to a lot of beats on YouTube just to try to get a vibe and it happened that the throwback ’90s vibe was like the songs that I delivered the best on. It just came together and honestly, that’s my favorite time in music. I just like that vibe, the whole feel, the whole essence of the ‘90s and just the swag.
You also showed you can you can get busy on the mic, especially on “Berry” and your “Paid in Full” freestyle. Do you have more fun showing off your lyrical side versus doing songs for the ladies, or is it the other way around?
My pops actually tells me to chill on the ladies records. That’s really my favorite topic. He be like, “Damn, son. How many more ladies joints you gonna have?” [Laughs.]
Obviously, you must have a special lady in your life for you to keep doing those kinds of records.
Yeah, definitely. You know my girl is definitely an inspiration for that. And that’s just my favorite thing to talk about and my favorite way to talk.
— Diddy (@Diddy) January 14, 2018
You’ve been busy with both modeling and rapping. How have you been able to balance studio time with being the face of Dolce and Gabbana and now your new deal with Tommy Jeans for their Spring ’18 Campaign?
I’m in the studio all the time and you know, the modeling stuff is like having one car you go and drive once in awhile, but it’s not like an everyday thing for me right now. Music is really an everyday thing.
Your flow and delivery very much sounds like Ma$e and your dad. Were they your inspirations musically?
Damn. It must really sound like that, huh? [Laughs.] But, yeah, all of the Bad Boy artists were an influence to me growing up. I would say the biggest influence was actually Biggie. When I’m in the studio, I would try to just do a song like them, but I would still do my own thing on it. Like I gotta make sure that I’m gonna be able to hold my own on any track. And Biggie to me is the greatest of all-time.
I definitely looked up to the Puff and Ma$e era. That’s my favorite era of my pops. Like, it was songs that he did at that time, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “Been Around the World” and “All About the Benjamins.” Those are some of my favorite songs from my dad. So that definitely played a big part of my life, that Puff and Ma$e era.
Have you and your pops talked about doing a father/son kind of EP?
I mean, we definitely talk about it. I already got this one song I did, stupid good vibe. It’s ready for him, but we ain’t do it yet. They gotta wait for that one.
Describe the advantages and disadvantages of being the son of Puffy while trying to establish a name for yourself in both the music and modeling world.
I think the advantages of being Puff Daddy’s son is definitely getting advice and being able to learn the ropes and see how to do certain things and how not to do and just basically getting to see the success by just watching him and being a fly on the wall. And I think the disadvantage is probably the people like you said doubting me or thinking we don’t work as hard as they do or them thinking people probably write for me or make my beats. It’s really nobody. It’s me and [my group] CYN. So that’s one of the hard things, the disadvantages to me. But they’ll know soon.
What have you learned from your dad’s success with Bad Boy that you’ve been trying to incorporate to your group CYN?
What I’ve learned is that he made real smart and strategic moves and like it was a movement. [Bad Boy] wasn’t just a label. Like, when you just think of Bad Boy, you think of a whole dance. a whole swag. a whole era. So I think that’s what made Bad Boy different and that’s how I gotta make CYN different.