Sean Combs has had his name attached to everything from vodka to sneakers to perfume, and now a class can be added to the list. “Sean Combs and Urban Culture” is an online, two-credit course offered through Tisch School of the Arts’ Clive Davis Institute that started on March 28.
Combs — who has been known in the past as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and simply Diddy — has distinguished himself over the past 20 years as a rapper, producer and entrepreneur, becoming the richest man in hip-hop.
The course investigates Combs’ success within the historical frame of social and cultural changes that occurred throughout the 1990s. It also analyzes Combs’ key strategies and business practices.
“Though sometimes not treated with seriousness he deserves, Combs redefine[d] the image of the hip-hop entrepreneur as aggressive, brash and full of self-assured swagger,” reads the course description.
Professor Jayson Jackson has known Combs since junior high and has served as head of marketing at Combs’ record label Bad Boy Entertainment.
It was this relationship, when he worked with Combs during some of Bad Boy’s most profitable years, that initially inspired Jackson to create the course.
“People always talk about [Combs’] ability to throw a party,” Jackson said. “I wanted to talk about his business acumen … and talk about his parties if time permits.”
The course is organized based on the chronological path of Combs’ career up to the present day. Jackson said he hopes students who take the class will walk away with a clearer idea of the vision, strategy and execution it takes to become a successful entrepreneur in the entertainment industry.
“It may look like one big party,” Jackson said. “But it’s a business at the end of the day.”
Gallatin junior Dylan Freehauf said the course deals with an interesting topic.
“It’s great to see a course that reflects the socio-cultural impact hip-hop has had,” Freehauf said.
Jackson said Combs himself is aware of the course, and he gave Jackson his blessing. Like any successful entrepreneur, however, Jackson said Combs is less interested in past successes than future endeavors.
“We spoke at length about the course at the end of the summer in Los Angeles shortly before he launched Revolt TV,” Jackson said. “He was more interested in telling me about new ventures, what I thought of his new Amaretto-flavored Ciroc Vodka and what costume he should be wearing at burning man.”
CAS junior Lauren Klingensmith said she is unsure whether the course should focus on Combs himself.
“I think time may be better spent exploring similar artists in a subset of a genre, which would lend itself to a broader research basis,” Klingensmith said.
However, the class has been met with enthusiasm by some Clive Davis students like Tisch junior Jodi Gerver.
“Diddy has informed so much of the music industry that not recognizing and studying him is almost destructive for any creative entrepreneur,” Gerver said.
Jamison Williams is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected].