The 20th anniversary Bad Boy reunion bash at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Friday night (May 20) wasn’t just a hashtaggable event (though #TBT And #FBF would be appropriate descriptors), but rather a celebration of the late Notorious B.I.G. and a semi-deep dive into the crates spanning the legacy that Puffy and Co. built.
Three hours before what would have marked the late Notorious B.I.G.’s 44th birthday (May 21), Brooklyn was in party mode for night one of the hip-hop family affair. Rap and R&B royalty two-stepped and Diddy bopped across the stage from Sean Combs himself to Faith Evans, 112, Lil’ Kim, Total, Carl Thomas, The Lox (Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch), Lil’ Cease and Black Rob, each serving up their most notable Bad Boy-branded hits. Even B.B. affiliate French Montana came on board with a more millennial-friendly set that included “Off The Rip,” “Pop That” and an appearance from Rick Ross for “Stay Schemin’.” The special guests carried a VIP list of mind-blowing cameos from Usher, Busta Rhymes, Jay Z, Nas and Mary J. Blige.
Below are the 13 most nostalgic moments from last night’s star-studded Puff Daddy & The Bad Boy Family reunion.
1. “We did it Brooklyn! We did it!” Puff said at the top of the night with an opening medley that included the Family’s “Victory” off Puff’s 1997 debut, No Way Out, the 2015 dance floor magnet “Finna Get Loose” featuring Pharrell on a Jumbotron, “Bad Boy For Life” and the flossy Puff and Ma$e collabo “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down.” The latter marks the Bad Boy chief’s debut single, loaded with old school feels courtesy of a sample from Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 classic “The Message” with a hook referencing Matthew Wilder’s 1983 “Break My Stride.”
2. 112’s set provided the quintessential Ladies’ Night soundtrack as the R&B quartet — comprised of Quinnes “Q” Parker, Marvin “Slim” Scandrick, Michael Keith and Daron Jones — donned matching ensembles in true boy band fashion and delivered their hits “It’s Over Now,” “Dance With Me” and the steamy “Peaches and Cream.” During the night’s finale, they also sang their standout debut “Only You,” which featured Biggie and Ma$e, as well as the B.I.G. tribute “I’ll Be Missing You” alongside Puff and Faith Evans.
3. Bad Boy Records’ resident girl trio Total, clad in shiny silver numbers, re-emerged with their ’90s cuts, launching into their Missy Elliott duet “Trippin’” (Misdemeanor didn’t hit the stage with Keima, Keisha and Pam, sadly) followed by “No One Else” and their slow jam “Kissin’ You.” They also lent their vocals to the closing medley with a live rendition of their first single “Can’t You See?” which featured Notorious B.I.G.
4. D-Block hit Flatbush Avenue when the Lox stomped onto the stage with street anthems in tow like the Biggie collaboration “Last Day,” “We Gonna Make It,” “I Get High” and “Wild Out.” Despite their falling out with Puff over a decade ago (see: the “Free The Lox” campaign and their November 2005 interview on Hot 97), beef was buried when Jada, Styles and Sheek hyped the crowd as part of the Bad Boy set.
5. R&B singer Carl Thomas brought the feels to Barclays by gliding through his highest notes, including the chest-pounding “Emotional,” the groovy “Summer Rain” and the heartbreak anthem “I Wish.” Though Faith Evans was also on the bill, the pair did not reunite for their 2001 duet “Can’t Believe.”
6. A red-headed Faith Evans time-traveled back to 1995 with performances of her R&B gems like “You Used to Love Me” and “Soon as I Get Home,” which both contributed to making her debut studio effort, Faith, a platinum success.
7. In one-off performances of their charting successes, Mario Winans delivered his 2004 hit “I Don’t Wanna Know,” Cassie brought back her 2006 single “Me & You” while Black Rob hit the crowd with the 2000 single “Whoa!” Birthday boy Busta Rhymes also hit the stage for a 2016 update of “Pass the Courvoisier,” which Diddy finessed into a shameless plug for his vodka, singing, “Pass the Ciroc this way.”
8. Barclays exploded with Jay Z’s appearance during Puffy’s performance of the Dirty Money hit “Angels.” Here, Hov segued into a rendition of the song’s original sample, his 1997 ode to Brooklyn “Where I’m From.” The two legends shared a sentimental moment as Puff praised the BK native for being a part of the extended Bad Boy family. “You’ve been there for me through my ups and downs. Whenever I get in trouble, this is the one I call. This is my strategist right here, this my brother, this B.I.G.’s brother, this Brooklyn’s own,” praised Puff before Jay launched into his classic hit “Public Service Announcement.”
9. Queensbridge finest Nas also made an unannounced stop in BK for a fiery performance alongside Puff for their 2009 collaboration “Hate Me Now.” Both Diddy and Esco traveled the stage with long black fur coats that required two handlers each to carry the lengthy train. Nas then rocked the mic for a solo performance of 2002’s “Made You Look,” which ignited chants of “Hip-hop!”
10. Lil’ Kim stormed the stage with an arsenal of rap hits that made her Bad Boy’s Queen Bee. Despite mic issues, the Brooklyn native flooded the stage with a set of classics that included her Mobb Deep collaboration “Quiet Storm (Remix),” “Big Momma Thang,” “Lighters Up,” and “Queen B-tch.”
11. R&B megastar Usher pulled up to the scene as one of the night’s standout surprises, bringing his smooth moves and vocals to Puffy duets like “I Need A Girl” parts one and two (Ginuwine didn’t appear for the latter) as well as a performance of his 2004 jam “Bad Girl.”
12. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige held church in Brooklyn as MJB loyalists sang along to every note from the ’90s including “Real Love,” “Be Happy” and “I’m Goin Down.” Following her set, she saluted Puff for his contributions to her career. “Now I’m the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul because of this dude right here,” she offered. “So Puff, you’re my miracle. Thank you so much.”
13. Not only did the Bad Boy extravaganza provide a chance for attendees to turn up to two decades worth of hits, it provided a four-hour long trip down memory lane (the show ended approximately 1:30 a.m.) for Puff who sandwiched individual sets with throwback footage of a young Sean Combs calling himself “the shiny suit man,” reminiscing over his A&R beginnings at Uptown Records and even his past relationships (clips of his children’s mother Kim Porter and his romance with Jennifer Lopez were shown). The night wrapped with an emotional tribute to the star of the night, the late Biggie, who rapped alongside his hip-hop family via music videos on a large screen, especially for the confetti-covered finale, “I’ll Be Missing You.”