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Update 9:51amCT, Jan. 5: Diddy appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night and, as he put it, “unretracted the retraction.” Henceforth, he will be known as “Love.” For now at least.
Sean Combs celebrated his 48th birthday on Monday with a surprise—he changed his name for the fifth time.
The iconic rapper who launched into stardom under the moniker Puff Daddy has made several professional transitions over the course of his career. He was Puff Daddy, then Puffy, followed by P. Diddy and Diddy. There was even one week in 2011 when he identified as Swag.
Now, Combs would like to introduce himself as Love, or Brother Love.
This is not the first time Combs has done something wild on his birthday, either. In 2013, he announced he was moving his birthday to Nov. 16 because his “swag levels” were off.
In honor of Combs’ birthday and his big announcement, we’ve ranked all of Diddy’s nicknames from best to worst. (We’ve gone ahead and omitted “Swag.”)
1) P. Diddy
Combs changed his name to P. Diddy in 2001, following a shooting he and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez experienced at Club New York in Manhattan. Although Combs—who was charged with four weapons-related charges—was eventually found not guilty, the tragedy left an impact on Combs. He told MTV he needed a fresh start.
Combs’ transition to P. Diddy reflects his maturation in both his music and his lifestyle. As P. Diddy, Combs put out gospel album Thank You, toured with N’Sync, gained full control of his label Bad Boy Entertainment, made a platinum-certified album, and performed at the Super Bowl in 2004. P. Diddy was a household mainstay.
Plus—Combs’ close friend Notorious B.I.G. reportedly came up with the name.
2) Puff Daddy
As the original moniker of Combs, Puff Daddy is a classic.
Puff Daddy earned Combs the first ever rap song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “I’ll Be Missing You” and the Grammy award for best rap album in 1998.
Unfortunately, it was also under this moniker that Combs earned the reputation for over-commercializing hip-hop and using too many samples or guest appearances in his music. Combs needed to change his name to fix his reputation.
Everyone loves a nickname that reflects an artist’s history. Combs earned the nickname Puffy growing up in New York because of his bad temper. He used the nickname as his stage name until 1999, when he transitioned into P. Diddy.
While Puffy is also a classic, is it as catchy or iconic as P. Diddy or Puff Daddy? Nope.
In 2005, Combs announced he would drop the “P” in P. Diddy in an effort to simplify his name. It totally backfired, however, after he was sued in the U.K by London-based DJ Richard Dearlove who had been performed under the name Diddy since 1992.
Dearlove won the case and Combs was forced to remain as P. Diddy in the U.K. even as he moved his career forward as Diddy in the U.S.
While we agree that Diddy is simpler than P. Diddy, the confusion that the moniker created in the U.K. knocks it down in the ranking.
5) Love aka Brother Love
Sorry, Combs—no one is digging the name change announced on Monday.
Combs said in a video posted on Twitter that the name change reflects that he feels he is no longer the same man that P. Diddy or Puffy Daddy was.
“I know it’s risky because it could come off as corny to some people,” he said. “So my new name is Love, aka Brother Love. I will not be answering to Puffy, Diddy, Puff Daddy, or any of my other monikers.”
Fans on Twitter have pointed out that not only is Brother Love corny, it’s already been claimed by Bruce Prichard–the professional wrestling personality and producer for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Yo. Find a new gimmick. I invented and perfected Brother Love. I am the original and you are not. Remember North Carolina.— Bruce Prichard (@bruceprichard) November 4, 2017
Brother Love is both cheesy and unoriginal, and comfortably the worst nickname Combs has ever laid claim to.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.