Sean Combs

The man formerly known as 'Puff Daddy' has achieved more than any other in the history of black popular music. Yet tragedy and controversy haunt the impresario of hip-hop.

Sean Combs was born on 4 November 1969 in a public housing project in Harlem, New York City. His mother was teacher and model Janice and his father was Melvin Earl Combs. When Combs was a child, his father - who was an associate of a drug lord - was shot dead in his car after a party.

Combs attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. After graduation he was an intern at Uptown Records, and became an ambitious A&R executive. After being fired, he worked as a remixer, and set up Bad Boy Entertainment as his own venture, running the label out of his apartment. He finally signed two hit artists, former EPMD roadie, Craig Mack, and the Notorious B.I.G.

Mack hit the big-time in mid-1994, winning a first platinum record for Bad Boy. B.I.G. notched the second at the beginning of 1995, with his own second hit, 'Big Poppa'. Mack's album 'Project: Funk Da World' eventually went gold, and Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Ready to Die' was certified double-platinum.

Sean "Puffy" Combs began branching out Bad Boy during 1995, adding platinum R&B acts Faith Evans and Total. He also produced for many outside artists. By that time, however, Combs and B.I.G. were embroiled in a feud with Death Row Records that lead to the deaths of both Tupac Shakur and B.I.G.

In the meantime, Combs had been preparing his own solo debut, under the name Puff Daddy, and his single 'Can't Nobody Hold Me Down' held the top spot on the singles charts for almost two months.

Combs' subsequent LP as Puff Daddy, 'No Way Out', shot straight to number one and was certified platinum several times over; in 1998 it won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Despite this, he was criticised by many in the hip-hop community for watering down the sound of the underground, and also for a perceived over-reliance on samples.

A relationship with film star Jennifer Lopez cemented his mainstream appeal, but the couple were held on firearms charges in 1999, and Combs was also accused of beating a music executive, in a dispute over a music video by another rapper.

Combs was later charged with four counts of illegal gun possession and one count of bribery, as prosecutors claimed he offered his driver, Wardel Fenderson, $50,000 to say that the loaded gun police found at the scene of the crime was Fenderson's. His trial began in late January 2001. On 16 March 1999, Combs was cleared of all charges, as was his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones.

In 2001 Combs announced that he was changing his nickname from Puff Daddy to P. Diddy, earning him comparisons to fellow name-changing musician Prince. That same year his high-profile romance with Lopez ended.

His penchant for changing his name resurfaced four years later, when he announced that he was settling on the name 'Diddy'. However, he was prompted to change his name again the following year after a lawsuit filed by English music producer Richard "Diddy" Dearlove; Combs settled out of court and agreed to release his 2006 album 'Press Play' under the name Diddy in the U.S., but under P. Diddy in the UK.

In late 2006, Combs' then-girlfriend, Kim Porter, delivered twin girls, D'Lila Star and Jessie James Combs. The couple also have a son, Christian. Combs also has another son, Justin, from a previous relationship with stylist Misa Hylton-Brim. He also has another child with Sarah Chapman, named Chance Chapman Combs.

In addition to his music, Diddy has kept a keen eye on the business opportunities his fame has afforded him. In 1998, he launched a clothing line, Sean John, which was nominated for, and won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for Menswear Designer of the Year, in 2004.

Combs made the decision to venture into the potentially lucrative world of men's perfume in November 2008, when he launched the fragrance, I am King. He also branched into the world of reality TV in 2008, with the VH1 show 'I Want to Work for Diddy'.

He also returned to the music studio and released album 'Last Train to Paris' on 13 December 2010. Since 2009, he has performed as part of 'Diddy Dirty Money', comprising Combs, Dawn Richards and Kalenna Harper. This album was the first record created by the group. Singles from the album were 'Angels', 'Hello Good Morning', 'Loving You No More' and the hit 'Coming Home'. His latest album, MMM, was released in 2014.

In 2010, Combs tried his hand at acting by playing a record executive in the film 'Get Him to The Greek'. He has since appeared in 'Entourage' and 'Hawaii Five-O'.

Not content with dipping his toe in the world of fashion, music and perfume, Combs has also invested his considerable fortune in an upscale restaurant chain called Justin's, named after his son.

These business ventures may have helped him to top a Forbes poll of the world's richest rappers.

His estimated $700 million (£295 million) personal fortune puts him above Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

The recording artist and producer was keen to play down his wealth when he spoke to MTV and said: "I think people think that I have that money actually sitting at home in the basement.

"To everyone calling me for a loan today, I do not have that money today."