Bad Boy Records has had a long run of successes and failures, but in its beginning years this label set the tone for hip-hop on the East coast. A year after being named Billboard’s #1 rap label of 1995, Bad Boy Records continued to climb to the top of the hip-hop game in 1996.
Bad Boy Records was founded in 1993 by Sean Combs after Combs left A&R position at Uptown Records that same year. Three years after, Bad Boy entered a joint venture contract with Clive Davis’ Arista. This was a big move for the label, which divided the company into a 50/50 label.
Although Diddy still held a lot of creative control, change would still come soon to the young label in 1996. The label’s line up was incredible, hosting artists such as Faith Evans, Notorious B.I.G, 112, Total, Nonchallant, Puff Daddy and more.
With more help on the business side of the label, Combs was able to focus more on the creative side of the company. In 1996, he began working on his first solo album and released his first single at the top of the following year.
1996 for Bad Boy Records was the year of debuts for new artists Total, 112. Total released their debut album, Total, which featured vocals from Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G. 112 also released their debut and self-titled album, 112. Both albums reached success, Total went platinum and 112 went double platinum.
This year also included the introduction of hip-hop’s new leading lady, Lil Kim. Lil Kim was brought to Bad Boy through her close relationship with signed artist, Notorious B.I.G. Although not signed to Bad Boy Records, she worked closely and collaborated creatively with the label’s creatives at The Hit Factory Studio in NYC. This studio was home to other Bad Boy hit albums by Biggie and 112.
In October, Lil Kim released No Time featuring Puff Daddy. The single was the first single off of her first studio album. No Time quickly reached number 1 on Billboard’s Top Rap Singles chart by December. This began the long relationship between Lil Kim and Diddy.
From a year huge shifts in ownership to a huge feud with the West coast’s Death Row Records, Bad Boy Records went through many changes in 1996. Bad Boy dropped gems, found their leading lady ending the year at number one and entered the new year with a bang.