Mayor Eric Adams presents Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs with a Key to the City of New York. Credit: Caroline Rubinstein-Willis / Mayoral Photography Office
Key to the City of New York to Honor Combs for Decades of Contributions to Music and Business, Philanthropic Support to Underserved Communities
New York City Mayor Eric Adams today awarded a Key to the City of New York to legendary musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Sean “Diddy” Combs. Combs has produced and released countless iconic songs and albums over the last several decades, while discovering some of hip hop’s biggest names during his career. Combs has also expanded beyond music, becoming a leading Black entrepreneur and major philanthropic donor to underserved communities.
“Sean Combs is the embodiment of the New York City attitude. A son of Harlem, Combs worked his way to the top, becoming a successful musical talent both in front of and behind the mic,” said Mayor Adams. “Despite all of his successes, Sean has never forgotten where he came from — giving back to New York City, donating millions to underserved communities, and supporting aspiring Black entrepreneurs. ‘Every step he takes, every move he makes,’ Sean Combs has proven to be a singular, generational talent. For his contributions to music, business, and philanthropy, I am honored to present Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, with a Key to the City of New York.”
“Receiving the Key to the City of New York, the very city that molded me, is an honor and incredible moment in my life,” said Sean “Diddy” Combs. “From growing up on the streets of Harlem to the international stage — New York’s energy and resilience have always been the backdrop of my story. This city has given me triumphs, life lessons, and love. Today, I accept this key not just for me, but for every dreamer, every hustler, every artist, and every kid from New York who dares to dream big. To Mayor Adams and the City of New York: I promise to keep giving to this city that made me. Thank you for recognizing my journey and my mission to uplift and empower. Let’s continue to make history together.”
A Harlem native, Sean Combs quickly cemented himself as one of the most influential voices in popular entertainment. Combs founded Bad Boy Entertainment and then Bad Boy Records in 1993, releasing Notorious B.I.G.’s influential hip hop album “Ready to Die,” the label’s first record, one year later. While running Bad Boy Records, Combs helped launched the careers of some of the biggest names in music, including Lil Kim, Faith Evans, Mase, and the Lox. To date, Bad Boy Records has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Receiving international acclaim, Combs’ own first full-length album, “No Way Out,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and earned Combs two of his eventual three Grammy Awards wins in 1997. Combs would go on to receive the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ Founders Award in 2011 and the Black Entertainment Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.
Combs’s influence goes beyond music. As a leading entrepreneur, Combs won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2004 for his clothing line, Sean John. He has also been instrumental in education initiatives, helping to open schools in Harlem and the Bronx, and donating millions in scholarships to historically Black Colleges and Universities Howard University and Jackson State University.
The Key to the City of New York was first awarded in 1702 by New York City Mayor Phillip French, when he offered “Freedom of the City” to Viscount Edward Cornbury, then the governor of New York and New Jersey. By the mid-1800s, it became customary to award the Key to the City of New York as a direct symbol of the city’s wish that a guest feel free to come and go at will. Today, the Key to the City of New York is a beloved symbol of civic recognition and gratitude reserved for individuals whose service to the public and the common good rises to the highest level of achievement.