New York City Mayor Gives Harlem’s Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs A Key To The City In Times Square

September 15, 2023

NYC Mayor Eric Adams bestowed the prestigious Key to the City of NY upon the legendary musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Sean “Diddy” Combs, in a ceremony today.

The ceremony took place in Times Square, and Mayor Eric Adams shared a few words about the occasion. “The bad boy of entertainment is getting the Key to the City from the bad boy of politics,” he declared. Upon receiving the key, Diddy thanked a crowd of supporters cheering him on. “I want to thank you all for this honor and just recognizing me being from New York, giving me the Key to the City,” he said.

Recognizing Combs’ extraordinary contributions to the music industry, his role in nurturing hip hop talent, and his remarkable philanthropic endeavors, Mayor Adams praised him as a true embodiment of the New York City spirit.

Sean Combs epitomizes the quintessential New York City attitude. Hailing from Harlem, Combs climbed the ladder of success, becoming a prominent musical talent both in front of and behind the microphone,” Mayor Adams remarked. “Even amid his towering achievements, Sean has remained deeply rooted in his hometown, generously giving back to underserved communities, and championing aspiring Black entrepreneurs. A generational talent like Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs deserves the Key to the City of New York for his remarkable contributions to music, business, and philanthropy.”

Sean “Diddy” Combs, visibly moved by the honor, stated, “Receiving the Key to the City of New York, the very city that shaped me, is an extraordinary and deeply personal moment in my life. From my upbringing on the streets of Harlem to my global success, the vibrant energy and unwavering resilience of New York have always formed the backdrop of my story. This city has gifted me triumphs, invaluable life lessons, and boundless love. Today, as I accept this key, it symbolizes not just my journey but the dreams of every aspiring individual, hustler, artist, and kid from New York who dares to dream big. To Mayor Adams and the City of New York: I pledge to continue giving back to the city that molded me. Thank you for acknowledging my journey and my mission to uplift and empower. Together, let’s continue making history.”

Hailing from Harlem, Sean Combs swiftly asserted himself as a major voice in the entertainment industry. He founded Bad Boy Entertainment in 1993, later launching Bad Boy Records, which achieved remarkable success with the release of Notorious B.I.G.’s groundbreaking hip-hop album, “Ready to Die.” Under Combs’ guidance, Bad Boy Records nurtured the careers of music giants like Lil Kim, Faith Evans, Mase, and the Lox. The label has now sold over 100 million records globally. Combs, with his debut full-length album, “No Way Out,” debuted at the pinnacle of the Billboard 200 charts and clinched two of his eventual three Grammy Awards in 1997. His remarkable journey includes receiving accolades like the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ Founders Award in 2011 and the Black Entertainment Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

Combs’ influence extends beyond the realms of music. As a leading entrepreneur, he secured 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 at the forefront of education initiatives, playing a pivotal role in establishing schools in Harlem and the Bronx and contributing millions in scholarships to historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Howard University and Jackson State University.

The Key to the City of New York has a storied history dating back to 1702 when Mayor Phillip French awarded “Freedom of the City” to Viscount Edward Cornbury, then the governor of New York and New Jersey. In the mid-1800s, the Key symbolized the city’s invitation for guests to come and go freely.

Diddy took to social media to show off the Key to the City, flexing it while hanging out of the car window. “New York we f*cking did it!” he yells in the clip, also shouting out various parts of the city. “Let’s go, the Key to the City.” As he gave his inspirational speech, countless fans hyped him up from the street.

Today, it stands as a cherished symbol of civic recognition and gratitude, reserved for individuals whose service to the public and the greater good reaches the highest echelons of achievement.

Photo credit: Mayor Eric Adams presents Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs with a Key to the City of New York. By Caroline Rubinstein-Willis / Mayoral Photography Office

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