The video of Diddy’s assault consolidates the fall of the hip-hop icon

  • By Emma Vardy
  • Los Angeles correspondent

Image source, Shareif Ziyadat

CCTV video footage confirmed what many in the music industry knew was brewing: a moment of reckoning for one of the most influential hip-hop artists in history.

Clips of Sean “Diddy” Combs kicking his ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura while she lay motionless on the ground cemented his downfall, despite his apology following the leak.

“I don’t see a path for him to recover from this,” said Amy DuBois Barnett, former editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine, who has written about hip-hop culture.

Mr. Combs’ reputation in the industry had been “questioned for some time,” Barnett added. “Many people were aware of his rather unbridled temper.”

Diddy – formerly known as P Diddy, Puff Daddy or Puffy – is one of the best-selling and most acclaimed artists of all time, with three Grammy Awards and millions of record sales to his name.

For years, nothing really affected Diddy’s rise to iconic status as an artist, producer and businessman. There were negative stories in the industry, Barnett said, but many of them remained out of the public eye.

Last November, Ventura settled a lawsuit against Combs, accusing him of rape and sex trafficking, for an undisclosed sum. But Combs’ lawyer said the agreement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing.”

Celebrities continued to express their support, but that ended with the CCTV video obtained by CNN and released last week.

The assault shown in the images is brutal. After kicking Ventura like a soccer ball, Mr. Combs, wearing only a towel, is seen dragging her across the floor.

The video appears to be a compilation of angles from surveillance footage from March 5, 2016, which CNN says was filmed at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles. In her lawsuit, Ventura described an incident that occurred in March 2016 at that hotel, in which Combs allegedly attacked her.

Since then, a series of other lawsuits have been filed against Combs alleging abuse, sexual misconduct and rape. When they were filed, the rapper called the allegations “disgusting” and said the alleged victims were looking for “a quick payday.”

But the video of the attack on Ventura undermined his denials.

Combs remained silent for two days after its release, before posting an apology on Instagram, admitting that he was the one on the tape and calling his actions “inexcusable.”

“I was disgusted when I did it,” he said, “and I’m disgusted now.”

“I went and sought professional help,” he continued. “I started going to therapy, to rehab. I had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I’m so sorry.”

Combs did not mention Cassie Ventura in his apology, and his attorneys responded by saying, “Combs’ recent statement is more about himself than the many people he has hurt.”

The apology came “too little, too late,” said Camron Dowlatshahi, an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles. “This shows Diddy’s shortsightedness, that she thinks she’s not going to be held accountable and that she has enough money to take care of everything.”

Barnett, who has written about misogyny in the rap industry, described the statement as “the most reckless apology ever made.” He suggested it was from the “classic ‘famous man’ playbook: deny, deny, deny. Get caught. Apologize and then talk about going to therapy.”

“No one is taking it seriously, especially since he previously accused Cassie and others of being gold diggers. That really angered a lot of people in the music industry.”

In April, news helicopters on the east and west coasts of the United States filmed police raids on mansions linked to the rapper. They were part of an ongoing criminal investigation by authorities into sex trafficking.

The man who was idolized as a hip-hop legend has been in hiding ever since.

video subtitles, Watch: Aerial footage shows raids on Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs properties

Family photos with his daughters posted on Combs’ Instagram account are in stark contrast to images of him carrying out a violent assault.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said Friday it could not file charges because of the statute of limitations for assault. So where does the CCTV footage and the ongoing investigation leave his career?

In his music, Diddy has often relied on collaborations with other A-list stars. His last album featured Mary J Blige, The Weekend, 21 Savage and John Legend. It is highly unlikely that he will now be able to recreate such productions.

But it’s less clear whether there will be any effect on its large number of listeners. Fitness company Peloton has already banned his music from its workout playlists, according to TMZ, but other companies have yet to comment.

R Kelly continues to gain millions of monthly listeners on Spotify, despite child sexual abuse convictions.

Meanwhile, Kanye West saw a spike in his monthly audience last year, despite being dropped by brands for expressing anti-Semitic views.

Those who spent this week next to Diddy’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame reflected on what the video meant to the rapper’s fans.

“It’s the end of his career. I don’t know how he’s going to recover from this,” said Los Angeles local Mar Anthony. “I was a fan as a kid and listened to Every Breath You Take (I’ll Be Missing You). But what he did and the music are two different things.

“It’s the same with Michael Jackson,” he said, nodding toward another Walk of Fame star not far away, in an apparent reference to child abuse allegations leveled against that star.

Diddy “definitely deserves what’s coming to him,” said Prince Laurenz Hamlin, who was visiting Los Angeles. “But he’s still built a legacy in the music industry. I think people are going to have to separate the art from the artist.”

One woman, after taking a photo of Combs’ star, simply muttered “predator” as she walked away.

It is unclear who is currently advising Sean Combs. The law firm that previously issued denials on his behalf has said it no longer represents him.

Despite civil lawsuits, no criminal charges have been filed against them. But the ongoing police investigation will undoubtedly weigh heavily on the rapper.

“The Department of Homeland Security was involved (in the raids),” Dowlatshahi said. “That fact alone shows the seriousness of what is happening here.”

Related Articles

Back to top button