King Combs has a lot on his plate at the moment. The 22-year-old is a rapper, model, runs his own clothing line 730LA and on top of all that, he’s the youngest son of one of Hip Hop’s most iconic figures — Sean “Diddy” Combs. That in itself comes with a weight not many can hurl over their shoulders. For King Combs, it’s nothing new to him, and taking all this on is laying the foundation for him to establish a legacy of his own.
Bad Boy Records is considered one of Hip Hop’s legacy labels and Diddy built it from the ground up. In its near 30 years of existence, the Bad Boy imprint was able to amass millions of album sales, win several awards and house some of the greatest rappers and producers of all time. For King Combs, the blueprint for leaving a legacy of his own was right in front of him.
“I think being a part of the Bad Boy legacy is definitely a gift,” Combs told HipHopDX in a recent interview. “I can’t even name a legacy that I think is better than Bad Boy’s legacy. It definitely paved the way for a lot of artists and the sound of Hip Hop. Like my pops is one of the greatest to do that, and the Bad Boy legacy speaks for itself. That’s what I want my legacy to do. I want my legacy to speak for itself.”
When tied directly to a legacy like Diddy’s, it’s not easy to establish one’s own identity. From skeptics thinking he’s had everything handed to him to the critics always comparing him to his father, King Combs has heard it all. He doesn’t fret either because the doubts and criticisms make this new era of his career much more significant.
“I feel like when people say things like that, they would just have to go deeper into the catalog, see and hear the music and see it’s more than what they think,” Combs said. “I just go into the studio, do what I love to do and just make a song that I want to make. I don’t really focus on everyone else or what people have to say, even though I do make music for people to love and celebrate. I go with my instinct, with what I think they’ll like.”
King Combs’ last effort Cyncerely, C3 came in March 2019 and he’s been patiently waiting to get more music out to his fans to continue showing his determination. He opened the door for this new chapter with guest features on Teyana Taylor’s “How You Want It” and Pop Smoke’s “Diana.” The tribute to his family and late mother Kim Porter on “Legacy” came in October and he followed up with “Cartis” a few weeks later. It’s not like he’s trying to prove something or win anyone over either — he’s really built for this.
“It’s in the blood, and this is what we do,” Combs said when asked if there’s any pressure for him to release music. “It’s not anything that we’re forcing. It would be pressure if we’re pulling a gimmick, but this is something that we’re just doing naturally, that we want to do, and this is something that I want to do, and that I’m doing naturally.”
King Combs says the new project is almost here and he’s been doing nothing but working on it to deliver the best project possible. He’s garnered a considerable buzz from his previous releases, but he knows there’s way more he can do and more people to touch through his music.
The time he spent with his family following the sudden passing of his mother and going into quarantine after the COVID-19 pandemic gave him ample time to figure out the next steps he needed to take in this part of his life and career. With a new project on the way, a burgeoning modeling career and plans to uplift his collective CYN, King Combs is determined to elevate even higher.
“I want to take the Combs thing to a whole other level,” he said. “It’s 2020, and you can’t stop what we can do now.”
DX spoke more with King Combs about his time in quarantine, what legacy means to him at 22 years old, the new music he has on the way, his favorite rappers from the ’90s and more.
HipHopDX: How has this time in quarantine been treating you?
King Combs: I’ve been taking good care of myself. I’ve just been in the crib really, doing family stuff, trying to stay safe. I feel like this is a good time, just because I got to become closer with my sisters, with my brothers, even with my Pops and stuff like that. So I think it was a dope time, and it was a good time just for me to reflect on myself, and really get to know myself better, and not just be caught up with going out, and doing shows, and having fun and all that.
HipHopDX: What’s the most important thing you learned about yourself throughout this quarantine?
King Combs: The most important thing I learned about myself, I think is that sometimes I get distracted a lot. During the quarantine I got to see, all right, it’s time for me to just be still, and really there’s only one thing to focus on, and that was my music. And obviously other stuff, but if I was in the worst space, I’ve just seen that I get distracted, and I would get distracted but there was nothing to do. So that’s one thing I learned about myself. But I feel like I got to get more alone time, and before the quarantine that’s something that I didn’t do. I like being alone more now.
HipHopDX: “Legacy” is an important record for you. What was your mindset going into that song?
King Combs: I was going through a period in my life where I felt like I was just feeling down, or it was like the world was against me, type thing. But I knew, nah, it’s not me. I need to just get up and get in my bag and stop playing around. So that’s just what it felt like, and then when I played the ‘Triumph’ instrumental, shout out Wu-Tang and all that, it just gave me that vibe off the rip. I just got in the booth and I just started thinking about so many different things, and that’s when I got down into my mom’s situation because that was heavy on my mind. So I got to let that out, and just talked about my family, God, and stuff like that. And really just me and my life, and I feel like it was something that I just had to get off my chest.
HipHopDX: Speaking of you picking that beat, how’d you come across that? Not many people can rap on a tough beat like that.
King Combs: Other than the sound of the beat and how it made me feel, it was the way that they did it. I remember the Wu-Tang video, and how it was just crazy and so unique, and so in your face. That’s just how I was feeling at the time, and how I’m feeling right now is just in your face, just this is me. This is what I’m doing and this is my legacy.
HipHopDX: How big of an influence does Wu-Tang have on you given how closely tied you are to Bad Boy?
King Combs: Wu-Tang definitely has a super big influence on me, even since I was younger. I’ll always listen to their music, but besides their music, it was just the crew aspect and how they handled their own crew. Like how they went to the top together, and you could see they were all bonding together, and I felt like that was something that me and my crew CYN got. I feel like we have a similarity to them. Wu-Tang is definitely one of the biggest and greatest groups in Hip Hop to me, so shout out Wu-Tang, for sure.
HipHopDX: With you being a part of the Bad Boy family and carrying the Combs name, what does legacy mean to you at 22 years old and what type of legacy are you trying to create for yourself?
King Combs: For me, what legacy means is family and just doing what you love, and putting your all into it. It’s about making a name for your family, and just changing the world. The type of legacy I’m trying to have is a legacy that goes on for just years and years and years, where they just know my name, King Combs and they know what I stand for. They know what we believe in which is pushing the Black king and queens forward, and just having fun and working hard.
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HipHopDX: Is it hard carving your own path separate from the path your father went down?
King Combs: No, it’s not. I feel like my father’s path is a part of my path, because that’s my Pops, and we family, so I feel like his path is a part of my path. With me creating my own path, that’s just a part of my life, and I feel like it’s the greatest way I would want it to be. I wouldn’t want to change anything about it, you know what I’m saying? His work, or my work, or us being together and being related, that’s something I love, so when people would say that, it’s like I’ve been ready for this since I was born because this is already what it is. That’s my Pops, so we’re rocking together.
HipHopDX: What’s the most important lesson he’s ever given you?
King Combs: The most important lesson I feel is just to go hard and to really give it your all. That’s what he be telling me sometimes. Like if I play him a song that’s not all the way there like he’ll ask, ‘Yo, you really gave this all? You really went 110 percent?’ He be on me about the little things, like waking up early, reading, and making sure I’m on my game and not just sleeping and going to the studio. He just tells me to treat my work like an athlete. I feel like that was an important thing he said was treat my workspace like an athlete. Like watching how they train their body, and how they work.
HipHopDX: A lot of the songs you’ve dropped in the past have a real ’90s vibe to them. Besides the artists on Bad Boy, who were some of the other artists from that era you really liked?
King Combs: I love Snoop Dogg. Snoop was going crazy. Nas was wild’n. JAY-Z, you got to say Biggie, my favorite rapper. I know you said no Bad Boy but who else? That I really love? Wu-Tang, of course. You got to have Wu-Tang in there. Man. The whole Dogg Pound, the whole, what they were doing. Tupac, of course. You got to put The Lox, even though they’re Bad Boy, The Lox is hard. I think The Lox is crazy fire.
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That was one of the most fire experiences I had was watching The Lox record. Being in the booth with them, and seeing Styles P rap like he was crazy. He still is crazy to this day, but just how he chopped it down, bar for bar and how he would record. But yeah, the ’90s definitely have a big place in my heart with that music. When I got a little older, like 15, 16, and I really started taking the music thing seriously, I just wanted to do my research on everything. So I’d do my research on a lot of ’90s stuff, and that inspired me in a big way.
HipHopDX: The last full offering we got from you was Cyncerely, C3. When is the next project coming?
King Combs: I got another project, I ain’t going to lie, cooking up. I’m cooking up a lot in the studio. I can’t wait for you all to hear this. You all are not even expecting the stuff that’s about to drop, for real, because “Legacy” is fire, “Cartis” is fire but it’s not really as close as the stuff that’s about to drop. That’s just the warm-up for the sound. Sonically, I think it’s exactly what y’all were waiting for. It’s not going to be, to where you said people are going to be able to put me in a box. It’s going to be what I am, and what y’all love King Combs for, but what it’s supposed to be right now in 2020. I think I’ve evolved since Cyncerely C3 and the project is going to be real cohesive, and have a real unified sound. Everyone’s going to get to know my sound.
HipHopDX: You could’ve done anything besides take on a rap career. What makes you want to rap?
King Combs: What makes me want to be a rap artist? I just feel like, to have the voice and to be able to inspire people around the world, it’s so powerful to me. Just to be able to go on my phone sometimes and see that somebody all the way in another country is really playing my music, likes me, sees what I’m doing and wants to be like me, that’s big, because I was a young kid before. Besides my Pops who I looked up to, I looked up to a lot of other people, like Lil’ Bow Wow, Cam’ron, Dipset, and artists like that. I knew that they played a big part in my life, and made me who I am today. So just to have that, to be like that in someone’s life, to have that place is special and can’t be found anywhere else.
HipHopDX: I’m sure you know you’ll have those critics who won’t take you seriously or doubt your struggles in becoming a rapper because of your family ties. What do you want out of this rap career?
King Combs: For me and my career as a rapper, I want to be respected as one of the greatest rappers. I’m not here to just be second, or just fit in. I want to be respected as one of the top dudes when I’m finished.
HipHopDX: You’re not only trying your hand at Hip Hop but you’re building a legacy in the fashion space. You’ve been featured in the new Savage X Fenty campaign. What was that like?
King Combs: That was big because I always thought Rihanna was so dope, besides her being Bad Girl RiRi, she’s Rihanna, you know what I’m saying? If she’s reaching out to me to have me do it, that just made me feel good and that I must be doing something right. Rihanna hit me up and when I was younger I had a crush on Rihanna too. I asked her for her number when I was like 11 or 12 years old. So now for her to hit me, and be needing me for something, that’s lit. That’s like, hey.
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HipHopDX: With you tapping into the model space, do you have any trouble balancing that out with your rap career?
King Combs: No, it really actually be easy. Besides when you have shows and stuff that’s on the same dates as the runway, then you might have to cancel the show. It only messed up a show or something like that for me once or twice, but besides that, I feel like they don’t really collide with each other. With the modeling stuff and being on the runways, you don’t need to do that 24/7. Music is something that you need to do 24/7 and be in the studio every day. I feel like I barely do that more than music.
HipHopDX: Which do you prefer more?
King Combs: Definitely music. I feel like the process is a lot more fun but the modeling thing is fun too, I ain’t going to lie, because you get to go to different places. I flew to Milan, Venice, Paris. I ain’t go to none of them places with the family or anything like that. And then you get to meet so many people. But it’s not like performing in front of a crowd, having them screaming for you, and getting that love. It’s just different.
HipHopDX: What’s the biggest fashion house that you want to be able to walk the runway for?
King Combs: The biggest fashion house that I want to walk the runway for? Oh, that’s hard because Dolce was one of the top that I was thinking, but we did that. But I didn’t even think that I was going to get to do that. I think honestly, I want to do either Chanel or Versace. Yeah, I feel like that’s hard. Chanel would be fire. Versace would be lit. But you’ve got to go with Louis Vuitton too. Those are my top three. If anyone of those hit me, I’ll be done with this.
HipHopDX: With establishing a legacy you have to bring family on with you. Have you tried getting your brother Justin on the mic?
King Combs: Yeah, for sure. He spit a couple ones that was fire I ain’t gonna lie. Stay tuned. Stay tuned for the Justin show, I’m letting you all know right now. He’s coming with us, I promise. I’m going to make him. As a matter of fact, I’m saying this right now. I’m not putting out my project without Justin on it.
HipHopDX: Another important part of your legacy is your collective CYN. You guys had such a banger with “Berry.” How’d you guys come together?
King Combs: “Berry” is the bomb. The birth of CYN actually started from Sean, shout out Sean, one of my older bros. We was in New York, and we was just always together. It was a bunch of us, we were just wild, and always dancing, rapping in the street. Always doing something and never chilling. One day we was walking, and then some dude in the street was like, “Yo, y’all some CYNs.” They said the acronym, I don’t tell nobody what it means but it started like that. We’ve been together since we was little, like 10 years old, 11 years old. We all knew each other, maybe besides two members just came in when we was 16 or 17, but we all knew each other for a long time.
Me and CYN, we so crazy, because we really just be working so organically. We just be having fun. Whenever somebody’s in town we do a song and we do something, but we’ve got it all coming together right now. We’ve got this folder that if you heard, you would be like, “Yo, this is beast.” We’re kicking it up right now. We’re about to have a plan to drop a debut tape first. We’re definitely trying to make our mark in Hip Hop, for sure, and hopefully be one of the biggest groups. That’s what I’m saying, you’ve got to hear the new music that we’ve got.
HipHopDX: We’ve already seen what your father has done with the Combs name. What does it mean for you to be carrying that name now?
King Combs: I’m carrying the Combs name, that means a lot. That means everything, for real. But I just want to take it to higher and higher and higher places, and have Combs buildings, Combs towers, and all that. You got to go through the Combses to make your fabrics, if you want to get fly. You’ve got to go through Combs to make a fire R&B song, or a fire song. We’ve got everything, technology in our hands, so I know that I can take this Bad Boy, Combs legacy and my legacy to where it needs to be.