NEW YORK (AP) — Hours before Puff Daddy hit the stage for an all-star concert featuring his Bad Boy family, Jay Z and Mary J. Blige, he could not contain his excitement.
He kissed Lil Kim on the cheek and embraced her warmly. He jumped up and down as he described their upcoming tour, and he compared his team to “the hip-hop version of Kiss and the Rolling Stones wrapped up in one.”
“He’s in the spirit,” said rapper French Montana, sitting behind Sean Combs and Lil Kim, and next to Mase. All of them matched in denim and various shades of blue.
Combs’ energy reached a new height when he hit the stage Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The show, ending roughly at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, was a rock star-like adventure that looked to past hits like “It’s All About the Benjamins” and “I’ll Be Missing You” that dominated pop and urban radio in the 1990s and 2000s, and helped make Combs a powerhouse in the music — and entertainment — industry.
Former members of the Bad Boy Records family — groups like 112, The Lox and Total; singers Faith Evans, Carl Thomas, Mario Winans and Cassie; and rappers Mase, Lil Cease and Black Rob — joined forces to perform hits for feverish fans who stood most of the night, and sang along to all of the songs. The night hit new levels with guest appearances from Jay Z, Blige, Nas, Usher, Rick Ross and Busta Rhymes.
Combs spoke at length onstage about his relationships with acts like Jay Z, Blige and Usher, and thanked them for being part of the special night.
“This is extended family. You been there with me through my ups and downs. Whenever I get in trouble, this is the one I call. This (is) my strategist right here. This (is) my brother,” he said next to Jay Z, who earned the night’s loudest applause.
But behind Jay Z was Lil Kim. She strutted onstage in a tight white ensemble while dancing and rapping familiar songs like “No Time” and “Quiet Storm (Remix).”
In an interview with The Associated Press early Friday, Combs said there’s no drama surrounding his former band mates.
“Everybody thinks because when we got back together, we’re calling it the family reunion tour, that there was some sort of problem. No. It was just that we were doing our own things, growing and evolving, having kids, moving, … finding God, doing other thing. So when I made the call with the idea, everybody said yes immediately. There’s been no issues,” he said. “We gon’ grow old together.”
Lil Kim described it as “a spiritual thing.”
“I just feel like this is all happening for a reason,” she said. “It’s like we never left, if you ask me. This is something we love doing.”
The group will perform a second show Saturday night at Barclays. The “Bad Boy Family Reunion” tour will begin Aug. 25 in Columbus, Ohio.
The weekend concerts also paid homage to the late Notorious B.I.G, whose 44th birthday would have been Saturday. Music videos of the Brooklyn icon’s hits played in the background, and at the end of the concert, a cake was brought onstage to celebrate his legacy.
“It’s so important to keep that going because that’s the origin of Bad Boy,” Mase said of Notorious B.I.G in the interview. “Without him there’s none of us. He set the way for all of us. He’s the reason we’re here.”
Lil Kim added: “Facts.”