To a generation of rap listeners P.Diddy is just an attention seeking irritant, one who cravenly latches on to more talented artists, appearing in their videos and peppering their songs with distracting ad-libs in a cheap bid to further his own profile and massage his own ego. But to others…no, come to think about it, he’s probably that to most generations of rap listeners. And some non-rap listeners too.
To this date his sole achievement is his close relationship with the late Notorious B.I.G. It’s certainly easy to see why the pair got along: Biggie was witty, verbose, multi-talented, and liked Versace sunglasses. Puffy, too, liked Versace sunglasses. Together, the pair were at the forefront of the mid nineties bling era-an era that stood largely true to the ‘two turntables and a mic’ ethos, but also threw in, for good measure, some diamond encrusted shiny suits, an indoor swimming pool and, more often than not, a remix featuring Jodeci.
To this sole achievement, could we be set to add another? Certainly, few could have expected Crystal Palace to find, so soon, an owner even more annoying than Simon Jordan.
His interest in the club, which was confirmed by his ‘people’ in the week, seemed to come as a surprise to many of the country’s sporting press, maybe shocked he was prepared to personally invest in something that is so obviously a lost cause. They were obviously unaware of his producing and marketing duties on the upcoming Joaquin Phoenix rap album. (“As yet unreleased,” notes Wikipedia, with a hearting air of optimism.) This is not a music mogul easily deterred by what others think, nor one cursed with overly sensitive critical facilities.
Besides which, was the Diddy/Palace alliance not forever destined, written even? Not written by the same team of ghostwriters that penned for Diddy such hits as ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ (for my money- and, knowing Puffy, a large slice of my publishing and royalties too- the single worst song ever made) and the other one, That One with Usher in the Video. But, rather, written by the stars and the fates.
Consider: the year is 1995, and Puff, in attendance at that year’s Source award, is called out in everything but name by West coast music head, and owner of Death Row records, Suge Knight, sparking a bicoastal rivalry that will span over two years, ending in the tragically early demise of two of the industry’s brightest talents, 2pac and Biggie Smalls. At the same time, as part of a bit of a shake up to accommodate smaller numbers the following season, Palace become the fourth team to be relegated from that year’s Premiership. To paraphrase Chris Rock: Malcolm X got assassinated, 2pac and Biggie got shot, and Alan Smith got invited to leave Selhurst Park and pursue the recently vacated managerial spot at Wycombe Wanderers.
Some years later, and with the millennium approaching, Palace bring back Steve Coppell, who does a fine job in keeping the cash strapped club away from the reaches of further demotion. Meanwhile, over in New York, Diddy, along with his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, is involved in an altercation in a night club, leading to a shooting for which his artist, Shyne, is eventually found guilty of instigating and sentenced to ten years in a maximum security penitentiary for. The trouble allegedly started when a club goer threw money at Puffy’s feet, in an ostentatious display of wealth- “we’ve all got money,” he is reported to have said.
You can’t help but feel, though, that the display would have been even more effective as a fiscally wasteful gesture had the club goer thought, as Palace had earlier in the year, to bring Terry Venables in as manager in a heavily publicised appointment. Though it’s probably fair to guess the point was to demonstrate that, no matter how much money any one of us may have, we’re all in a metaphorical gutter staring at the stars- and that’s not an argument the necessarily caters for the extra stresses brought about by administration and point deductions, nor the understandable concerns regarding Terry Venables and having to put with him.
Undeniable, though, surely, that the two were always, somehow, intrinsically and spiritually, linked. And now, fingers crossed, financially. What can Palace fans, and new manager Paul Hart, expect? We wait in hushed expectation. The first move will be to invite Diddy to join us in our hushed expectation, with the emphasis, ideally, very much on the ‘hushed’ bit.
Read more of Chris Mackin’s work at his excellent blog Partially Deflated