Diddy seen assaulting Cassie Ventura in 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTUBE.COM

When Cassie Ventura Fine officially filed a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against Sean “Puffy” “Diddy” Combs on Nov. 16, 2023, many were quick to jump to the defense of the Bad Boy Records founder and hitmaker. The Sean John fashion mogul, king of hype, and former reality star had a trail of suspicion and criminal innuendo that followed him from the mid-’90s, but due to his everrising star power and bank roll, those dark shadows were just that … of a man who transformed himself from a background dancer to eager intern for Andre Harrell at Uptown Records, to eventually a hungry talent executive who helped shape and navigate 2024 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mary J. Blige’s debut monster hit “What’s The 411” in 1992.

After discovering a young, talented, Brooklyn street pharmaceutical dealer by name of Christopher Wallace, who would become legendary wordsmith The Notorious B.I.G, and his firing from Uptown Records, Combs became the man he desired to be: the master of his own destiny, and that of everyone who walked through the doors of Bad Boy Records.

Combs would go on to create a roster of stars who changed Hip Hop: Lil Kim, Junior Mafia, Craig Mack, Total, 112, Carl Thomas, Mase, Faith Evans, The Lox, Shyne, and later Danity Kane. Combs became the go-to producer for artists such as MC Lyte, Usher, Mariah Carey, Missy Elliot and other notables of the 2000s. It seemed that everything

Sean Combs touched turned to, to paraphrase Bad Boy recording artist The Lox, “money, power, respect.”

Shadows followed Combs, however, in the form of rumors, violence and death. When Tupac Shakur was shot five times in a New York studio in 1994, where the Notorious B.I.G and Combs were also in residence, Tupac told reporters he believed Combs and B.I.G. had masterminded the hit. Shakur said Combs was the only person who knew he was using the studio. Combs and the Notorious B.I.G. denied the allegations, but the shadows followed Combs.

The shooting ignited what some called the “East Coast-West Coast” Hip Hop beef, and Tupac’s murder in Las Vegas in 1996 only intensified the rumors of Combs being the one who orchestrated the hit. Although there has never been any proof that could substantiate or implicate Combs in the shootings and murder of Tupac, the episode has not left the collective consciousness of all who remember the incidents that occurred in

1996 and the following year, when Christopher Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles, California.

Fast forward to November 2023 when Cassie, the former girlfriend of 10plus years, filed a 35-page civil lawsuit against Combs, who again changed his name, to “Brother Love,” and then just simply “Love.” The lawsuit was epic, salacious, sad, and quite detailed. Novel-like. Yet quite believable. For some.

There were those in and outside the industry who ran to the defense of Combs saying that Cassie was a disgruntled, manipulative liar looking for a million-dollar payday, and that the lawsuit was nothing more than a “money grab.” Combs settled the lawsuit within 24 hours of the filing, after strongly denying any wrongdoing. While many would say that settling a lawsuit does not indicate guilt, the disturbing allegations of Cassie’s lawsuit would suggest that Combs did not want to rehash publicly his alleged “activities” of sex trafficking, sodomy, rape, and sadistic domestic violence tendencies as graphically outlined in the legal documents.

But here we are. In the month of May, days after CNN released the InterContinental Hotel footage of Combs stomping, dragging, and throwing to the floor a fleeing Cassie. The video proof of the settled lawsuit that Combs vehemently argued was a lie. The video proof that Comb’s supporters, men and women alike, could not shout down or dispute. This was the real thing. It was shocking to see the man whose dark shadows of violence and other hidden vices that have followed him around for decades let the full monstrosity of his true self run rampant, wild, and free on another human being.

Only the hotel lobby cameras and those on the other side of those cameras witnessed the cruelty of Combs in that moment, but in truth, they were not the only ones. For years, artists such as Al B. Sure!, Mase, and Aubrey O’Day of Danity Kane have strongly hinted at the cruelty and maliciousness of Combs. Sure has strongly suggested that Combs visited the same sadistic violence upon his former wife the late Kim Porter, the mother of his son Qunicy and three of Combs’ children.

Shades of darkness enveloped Combs as he gave a statement on Instagram over the weekend that was supposed to be an apology. How he or his handlers thought what he said could be categorized as an apology only magnifies the problem. The statement was narcissistic and classic abuser behavior. Combs did not take responsibility for his actions, nor did he mention Cassie’s name directly. Furthermore, days before the CNN released the video showing Combs’ violence toward Cassie, Christian Combs, Sean Combs’ son, dropped a rap that gave the perpetual middle finger to the Feds, Homeland Security, and everyone who believed the additional allegations of sex trafficking, violence, and assault leveled against his father. Combs can of course be heard in the song doing his usual hype man routine of “yeah, that’s right.”

The video of Combs assaulting his former girlfriend is just a snapshot of one woman’s life, a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of a powerful man. Yet her story mirrors the unsung lives of so many Black women in this country, who have survived or are in the process of surviving domestic violence – and those who never make it out alive. Their abusers, romantic partners, lovers, and spouses do not have the money, power, or clout that Sean Combs has. But their stories and lives are just as important.

If you or someone you love is in a violent situation and need hope, and help, visit thehotline.org or call 1-800-799SAFE.