There are only a few labels that come to mind when you think of longevity. Specifically, if you think of decades-plus worth of classics and trendsetting, you have to think Bad Boy Records. Sean Combs aka Diddy, has created a musical dynasty in Bad Boy, and that was celebrated in extreme fashion Thursday night.
We were behind the scenes to see all the artists, the reunions, and all the love that was shared amongst this very large family. One of the best gifts ATL could’ve been given was the return of Boyz n da Hood. The Bad Boy South reunion performance was not only well received, but a much-needed reminder that ATL artists are not a fly by night phenomenon, they’ve been setting trends for years.
The BLOCK ENT (Block Entertainment) family was definitely in the building as Block himself established the label as a formidable opponent in the South. Those present for the reunion include Jody Breeze, Big Gee, Big Duke, Gorilla Zoe, Rico Brooks, J-Rell, Kris Kelli, Young Joc and more. The closeness of this family could be felt as copious laughs as well as stories were shared; nostalgia of the past, positive reflections, and talks of the future.
Many artists and friends stopped by the dressing room to show love and appreciation for their presence. Everyone from Lil Scrappy and Clifton Powell to T.I. and 2 Chainz stopped by the Bad Boy South corner to check on old friends and make new ones.
After listening to a few of the group’s favorite Bad Boy South moments, I spoke to Jody Breeze and asked how important this reunion was. “This is very special, we haven’t done this in a minute,” he says. “It’s always good when you get together with family that you’ve made history with.
That sentiment was echoed throughout the group. Bad Boy was celebrating a culmination of hits, but it was also reuniting friends, some of which hadn’t been seen in decades.
Notable producer J-Rell stated, “This is a definite blessing to see. This is my first go-round on this demonstration here. I get to see all the people I look up to: Puff, Block, Big Gee, you know… Shanti Das… There’s a lot of different people out here! I’m just elated to be amongst such greatness man. Shouts out to Puff, Bad Boy, Block ENT my Inkwell team, and shouts to you TPR fam!” The love amongst the group was clear and could be felt all throughout the dressing rooms.
Then there’s the ‘always ready to work’ orchestrator of the Block ENT/Bad Boy South family, Russ “Big Block” Spencer. Those who know him refer to him simply as “Block.” His presence brings accomplishment, respect, and a high level of admiration for those who know his résumé. He’s a hard man to miss as his sheer size supports his aptly titled nickname (‘Big’ Block) but what’s most impressive about him is his work ethic. The man is the living epitome of Diddy’s famous slogan: “We can’t stop, we won’t stop, we don’t even know how to stop!”
Seeing as he’s ‘the man’ around here and played a pivotal role in Bad Boy’s rise in the South, I had to get his view on the history being made last night:
“You know, truthfully…. I don’t want to sound big-headed but… But THIS is what I built the whole family for, this is what I built Block ENT for. It’s so we can come back down the line, generation [break] You know when I first built Boyz n da Hood, when I first signed Joc, Zoe, Young Jeezy, I built it to be to generation to generation. And now I’m seeing how all the generations are coming back and looking…. And they look great!’
The show itself will go down as the concert of the year. Just a few weeks ago I heralded Pitbull as “the best concert I’ve ever seen!” Just like that, in a matter of weeks, he has been replaced by the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour. What makes this so historical is when you actually think about the lineup; will there ever be an array of artists like this for one concert, ever again? In life? Ever?!
If you missed this concert, you missed history last night. Ma$e, Total, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, 112, Gorilla Zoe, Boyz n da Hood, Young Jeezy, Young Joc, Black Rob, The Lox, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Lil Kim, Gucci Mane, Jodeci, Tyrese, Christian (Diddy’s son), Mario Winans and more!
With so many artists and so many tracks to go through, it was only right that Atlanta was given the proper send-off to a historic night; the Bad Boy family, in its totality, performing “I’ll Be Missing You.” You want to talk about powerful? There was applause, cheer, and a continuous stream of tears flowing from the sold-out crowd.
Will there ever be a lineup such as this? A culmination of the familial embrace, high energy, great music, and sensory overload made this trip down nostalgia lane more than worth it.
“Can’t stop, won’t stop” clearly is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a calling for one to live their life. Like Block and his assembling of Boyz n da Hood, Diddy has put together a prodigious number of artists and tunes that span generations. So many generations in fact, that it’s clear to see that it truly is “Bad Boy for life.”
Photo: Anna Lira