Diddy's Puzzling Politics: From 'Vote or Die!' to Sit It Out

In what constitutes a 180-degree turnaround, the hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs Sunday urged blacks to “hold (their) vote” in November's presidential election, a decade after headlining a voter-registration campaign entitled “Vote or Die!”


Combs appeared on MSNBC Sunday to tell Rev. Al Sharpton he thinks the black community “got a little bit shortchanged” by the Obama Administration.

“The heat has to be turned up so much that as a community, we've got to hold our vote," Combs said. "Don't pacify yourself; really revolutionize the game. Make them come for our vote. It's a whole different strategy, but I think we need to hold our vote because I don't believe any of them." With support from entertainers like 50 Cent and Mariah Carey, Combs unveiled his "Vote or Die!" campaign in 2004 to derail Republican President George Bush's reelection bid.

While the overall aim was unsuccessful, the voter-registration campaign did manage to add nearly five milllion new young people to the voter rolls.

Still, the campaign's over-the-top language earned Combs derision on late-night television monologues and comedy television shows like the popular cartoon “South Park,” where Diddy is depicted musically urging people to “rock the vote or else I’m gonna stick a knife through your eye.” Combs himself began to reconsider his support for the "Vote or Die!" campaign at least a year ago, when he began publicly discussing his disillusionment with electoral politics.

“We started 'Vote or Die!' and the whole process was all full of sh*t. The whole sh*t is a scam,” he said, in a 2015 interview with Anti Media. “At the end of the day, I’m not telling you not to vote. But I’m saying be a realist and know that they’re motherf*cking kicking some bullsh*t up there.”

In Sunday's interview with Sharpton, he doubled down, offering tepid support for both Obama and U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "This is politics. You put somebody in office, you get in return the things that you care about for your communities. I think we got a little bit shortchanged. That's not knocking the president," Combs said. "He's done an excellent job, you know, but I think it's time to turn up the heat, because the black vote is going to decide who is the next president of the United States."

"Hillary Clinton, you know, I hope she starts to talk directly to the black community. It really makes me feel, you know, almost hurt that our issues are not addressed and we're such a big part of the voting bloc," he added. But in an apparent contradiction, he offered only praise for U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has a long and documented history of antagonizing blacks, Latinos, and Muslims. The media mogul told the Washington Post in an interview last October that Trump "is a friend of mine, and he works very hard."

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