1. From Ashy to Classy
The first album released by Bad Boy Entertainment—twenty years ago this month—was the Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, an instant classic and possibly the most influential rap record ever made. For Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, the label's founder, it was the first in a remarkable streak of commercial hits: twenty-one straight gold- or platinum-selling albums, including Puff's own Grammy-winning debut, No Way Out, plus home-grown artists like Faith Evans, the Lox, Mase, Total, and 112. By the mid-1990s, Bad Boy was the biggest label in pop music. This is the story of how it all began.