So Sean “Puff/Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Diddy” Combs, possibly Howard University’s most famous dropout has been summoned to speak at their commencement exercise in May. This has apparently ruffled some feathers. And by some I mean way less than a lot. But enough to garner debate and discussion as if it were a thing so let’s pretend its a thing. Assuming its a thing, I honestly cannot understand for the life of me why anybody would have a problem with this.
This can’t be because he’s a college dropout. Should Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (RIP) be the commencement speaker I’d wager that not one single person would bat an eye. All those men have changed the course of human history. Maybe it’s because they’re the kind of college dropouts we can get behind? Me no know. Puff changed the course of history as well. He helped turn hip-hop into the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today, for better or worse. Fight me.
It can’t be because he’s not successful enough. Puffy is chasin’ that billion dollar net worth like his life depends on it. He has managed to successfully run Bad Boy Records and turn it into an empire while
jacking holding the publishing rights to various artists you know and love (See Badu, Erykah). While he has definitely tanked more careers than he’s managed to usher into longevity, his business sense has fostered the careers of everybody from Usher to Outkast to Mary J. Blige to Jodeci to Biggie to Faith, etc. You see where I’m going. While very few people signed to him survived Bad Boy in tact, he put everybody in a position to win. And win they did for a while. Puff’s worth has been over $500 million for quite some time. That’s not because folks are handing him things, its because he’s been ridin’ around and gettin’ it…coincidentally a mantra that I’d wager 90 percent of HBCU students invest and believe in. HBCU students like the ones he will address in May.
It can’t be because he’s not inspirational. Love him or hate him, the man’s life story hasn’t been an easy one. He scrapped to get where he is and it isn’t like you wouldn’t listen to Puff give advice on how to make it in America. Hell, we seem to like to listen to Jay-Z and they pretty much have the same story. The only difference is Puff was cuttin’ the checks WAY earlier than Jay was. Hell, Puff’s most famous lyric might be, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” Undoubtedly ghost-written, but important nonetheless. Gangstarr has an album called The Ownerz…Puff IS one. I remember telling my father I wanted to be an NBA player before I stopped growing and he told me not to play for a team, own a team. Real n*gga talkin’. Shut the f*ck up ho.
Quick aside, I went to Howard’s graduation a few years back. Current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker. I can’t tell you a damn thing he said. Hell, I had to look it up to find out who the speaker was. There’s no point to other than graduation speakers are largely forgettable unless its a President or Oprah. I’m pretty sure David Satcher spoke at my graduation. I only remember this because he went to Morehouse, not because I can remember a single thing that he said. Graduation speakers are largely just pomp and circumstance.
So perhaps the issue is because people are attaching some type of unnecessay status to both Howard (I love HU and all, but let’s not pretend that HU is some beacon of Blackness and who speaks there determines some sort of status in the world community…plus, Morehouse had Obama last year…we won) and what it means to be a commencement speaker.
To me, and I’m the end all be all authority on this subject considering how many leatherbound books I have in my home, the commencement speaker really should be somebody with a grand message. To that end, you could probably find a homeless person who could deliver a great message that would change your life. I really do mean that. What you need is somebody to inspire you through the struggle as you cross the threshold from idealism into the grand abyss of “why didn’t I stay for another year”. Ultimately we all want a celebrity – like a real one – and only a few schools actually are able to pull that off. I’m fairly certain that if Tougaloo College could pull Puff they’d be happy as hell. Hell, they’d be happy with Chef Roble. The top shelf HBCUs and most of the top tier universities are obviously able to do this. It’s an honor to speak at these places so I’m sure they don’t take it lightly. I wouldn’t. In fact, it is my goal at some point to give a commencement address. It’s on my bucket list. I don’t even care if it’s DeVry or Capella (does that still exist?).
So this has to come down to he didn’t graduate so he shouldn’t be speaking at a graduation. Which is just stupid. Puff is a successful business man. Nobody would ever argue this. Puff won at life, like Zuckerberg and Gates and Jobs and any number of other people who didn’t need to finish college to make the leap.
I’ve seen quite a few articles talking about this (and by this I solely mean Puff speaking at HU) and they’ve been met with some interesting “why Puff” rhetoric in the comments though nobody could actually come up with a good reason. Short of his club shootout NOT GUILTY verdict and that promoter issue he had in the early 90s where some kids ended up dead because of overbooking, Puff has managed to fly mostly above the fray. So either folks just think that Puff, a business man who likely respects the hell out of the fact that the school that would be his alma-mater (though they’re giving him an honory doctorate), will get up there and say “take that take that…you’re nobody ’til somebody kills you” and then spit his verse from “All About The Benjamins” (which actually would make for a compelling speech), or we REALLY think that giving such a high honor to a rapper is crossing the line.
Actually let me amend that last paragraph, the worst thing Puff has done and he didn’t even know it is place Stevie J on the Hitmen (spawned some of the best songs to ever come out of Bad Boy) which would eventually lead to Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. If that’s your argument, then you got me.
Are there seemingly more conventional choices? Sure. But would they be better? Who knows. Maybe Puff gets out there and blows everybody’s mind. Maybe he doesn’t. But anybody claiming he doesn’t deserve that kind of shot is sadly mistaken. Anybody.
I’m sure Puff doesn’t care about detractors in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I’m sure he’s listening to track 2 off of No Way Out counting money and scratching his balls with a golden scepter. Coincidentally produced by Stevie J. That man made hits.
What you need to do is check your distribution, his songs bump in Houston like Scarface produced them.
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka PUFF FOR PRESIDENT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3