Sean “Diddy” Combs returned to the MTV Video Music Awards in historic style as he accepted the Global Icon Award and delivered a career-spanning performance of hits.
Mary J. Blige presented the mogul with the award. “This man has always been an icon,” she told the audience. “Puff’s impact on pop culture is immeasurable. His iconic music videos redefined the form. his global influence is forever felt across the entire music industry.”
Diddy opened his performance with his unreleased collaboration with The Weeknd, where he raps: “All I am is a man with ambition to be the best/When I failed, it just gave me the vision to see the rest/ Wasn’t even ready when God gave me the test/So I pray you find love in the pieces of me that’s left.” From there, he transitioned into “I’ll Be Missing You,” his Faith Evans-assisted tribute to the Notorious B.I.G.
Slipping into party mode, Diddy dove into “All About the Benjamins,” instructing the audience to get onto their feet. “Bad Boy for Life” was up next with an appearance from his son, followed by “I Need a Girl (Pt. 2).” City Girls’ Yung Miami popped in for a cameo before Keyshia Cole shut the stage down with “Last Night.” And Diddy still had more music up his sleeve — he couldn’t wrap this performance without “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
“This is a dream come true for me,” Diddy told the audience during his acceptance speech. “I grew up watching MTV like, ‘Man I wish one day I could be up there.’ You know, I started out as a paperboy. I didn’t know I was gonna be here, started as a paperboy at 12 and then I was gonna be an NFL football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. My leg got broke the last year and I got depressed. I would be in the clubs, dancing in New York City, doing my Diddy bop. And then people would see me and they would cast me for videos. That’s how I fell in love with the music industry. I saw the executives and I wanted to chase that dream. So I want to thank every executive, every producer, every songwriter.”
Diddy is the third-ever Global Icon Award recipient, following the Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The award, which was adopted from the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2021, “celebrates an artist or band whose unparalleled career and continued influence have achieved a unique level of global success in music and beyond” per MTV’s description.
Along with receiving the Global Icon Award, Diddy is nominated for four VMAs this year. “Gotta Move On,” his track with Bryson Tiller, Ashanti, and Yung Miami was nominated for Best Hip-Hop, while “Creepin’ (Remix) — Metro Boomin’s song with Diddy, the Weeknd, and 21 Savage — is nominated for Best R&B. The two songs are both also nominated for Best Collaboration.
Diddy’s Global Icon Award comes days before the hip-hop legend/mogul releases his new album, The Love Album: Off the Grid. The LP features a slew of collaborations, including Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R., Summer Walker, Babyface, John Legend, Teyana Taylor, French Montana, Coco Jones, and the (alleged) last feature from the Weeknd (unless Daft Punk reunite). The Love Album will be Diddy’s first proper solo album in 17 years, since 2006’s Press Play, and his first release since Puff Daddy and the Family’s 2015 mixtape, MMM (Money Making Mitch).
Along with prepping his own new music, Diddy has also been giving back music to the myriad artists he’s worked with over the years. Earlier this month, it was reported that Diddy would assign music publishing rights back to the artists that signed with his influential label Bad Boy Records. In a statement, he called the decision “unprecedented,” and introduced it as “part of a broader goal of promoting economic empowerment for Black artists and culture.”