We rate P. Diddy's notable hits and disastrous misses. As his ''Making the Band'' debuts, EW.com looks at Sean Combs' track record with young proteges

By Dawnie Walton
Updated October 16, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Sean Combs and Mary J. Blige: Koi Sojer/London Features

Who better to host MTV’s revamped ”Making the Band” (debuting Oct. 19 at 9 p.m.) than Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs? The hip-hop Svengali behind such groundbreaking artists as Mary J. Blige and the Notorious B.I.G. would be any aspiring young talent’s dream mentor…right?

Well, the hopefuls who auditioned ”American Idol”-style for the impresario should be careful what they wish for: Not all of Puff’s protégés have had storybook careers. Here’s EW.com’s take on Diddy’s most prominent hits — and a few sour notes.

ARTIST Mary J. Blige
THE BACK STORY Before she became the ”No More Drama” queen, Blige was a baggy-clothed ingenue whose gritty mall-karaoke demo got her a deal at Uptown Records in the early ’90s. Before he became rap mogul P. Diddy, Sean Combs was… a baggy-clothed ladder-climber for the same MCA imprint. Talk about meeting cute.
WHAT WENT DOWN Puffy offered to manage and produce the budding star, and the result was the stunning 1992 debut ”What’s the 411?” Blige’s raspy, gut-wrenching voice was paired with rugged beats, and a new genre, hip-hop soul, was born. And so was Puffy’s limelight-hungry persona; his voice, for example, is the first heard on ”411.”
THE VERDICT The dynamic duo eventually went their separate ways, but we still ”Reminisce” over the streetwise Mary and rugged, raw music she and Puffy made together. A+

ARTIST The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls)
THE BACK STORY By 1994, Puffy had been pink-slipped from his job as A&R chief at Uptown and was getting his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment, off the ground. Meanwhile, Christopher Wallace, a former crack dealer with a voice as hefty as his 6-foot-3, 300-pound frame, was recording rap demos in the basement of his Brooklyn home.
WHAT WENT DOWN Puffy snatched up the rapper as one of Bad Boy’s first acts, and soon saw his label’s hit-making reputation take shape with the release of Biggie’s ”Ready to Die,” a debut packed with clever, braggalicious raps now considered classics. The budding impresario rode with B.I.G. to the top — swilling champagne and macking on hot-tub honeys in videos, ”uh-huh”-ing and ”yeah”-ing all over tracks. At the time of his 1997 murder, B.I.G. was Bad Boy’s multiplatinum MVP.
THE VERDICT Putting aside that bordering-on-lame Biggie tribute, ”I’ll Be Missing You,” Puffy did exceedingly well by this oversize talent. A

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