Mike, Q, Slim and Daron of 112 say they will not be part of the Bad Boy roster when the company's owner, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, finds a new home for his label.
However, while Diddy admitted last week that he and the group he introduced to the world in 1996 are not one big happy family, he was firm about the guys' status: "They're on Bad Boy," he said. "We're gonna have to talk about it further."
The next time they talk about it will be in a court of law.
In February, citing that their contract with Bad Boy had expired, 112 signed a new recording deal with Island/Def Jam's subdivision Def Soul. Puffy filed an injunction in court to stop them from leaving because he said that their obligations to Bad Boy were not fulfilled. A judge is reviewing the matter, and the group is in limbo (see "P. Diddy Keeps 112 From Leaving Bad Boy For Now").
"We'll let the courts handle it, and then when it's over with we'll take 112 back in," Diddy said of his game plan. "We'll take them back in, cradle them, we'll get their minds right and put out a new hot album and let bygones be bygones."
The group, which is currently waiting things out in its hometown of Atlanta, contends that things are irreconcilable.
"It just was time for 112 to go to the next level," Mike said of why they wanted to leave. "We really couldn't do that being on Bad Boy."
The quartet charges that when it had music out at the same time as Puff, Bad Boy's attention would never be on 112 and that P.D. favored himself.
"We were a priority at certain times," Daron admitted. "But when you dealing with a label where the CEO is trying to be an artist also, it just leaves the question mark to where the focus is. If you put yourself in a situation where you have your own label and one day you decide to be an artist yourself, where would you spend your marketing and promotion dollars? It has been frustrating over the years trying to deal with that."
As with most disgruntled artists, money or lack thereof is the source of another huge gripe they have with Puff. They claim to have done everything Bad Boy asked of them including learning choreography, undergoing media training, losing weight and writing and producing but were still treated like stepchildren in the Bad Boy family when it came to getting the checks.
"We were 16 years old when we signed those [recording] contracts," Mike explained. "We were naive. We're not blaming anybody for what we did. But the way it was presented to us was like we were family, that it was all about love. Being adults now and being more mature and knowing the business now, we would have never signed. But at that time we were hungry, we were desperate, we needed whatever we could get to be out there to sing to the world, to be artists."
"That's why the family thing was such a contradiction," Daron scoffed. "If you such a family you would have just taken care of us regardless of the structure of the contracts. If I'm a man and I'm worth over $100 million and I got this group and they signed an agreement that's structured in a way that they can't make money. ... Me personally, if I was the head of the Bad Boy family, I would have said, 'OK, let me break these guys off a little something.' "
"It's a shame when you work with a group for like eight years," Diddy countered. "You put out three hit albums, a bunch of hit videos, a bunch of hit singles. We ain't taking none of their money. We ain't never not paid them their money. We ain't never not got them on MTV, on BET. We ain't never not had them all over the radio. We ain't never not had them on tour. We did what we were supposed to do as a record company.
"Then you got somebody like Def Jam trying to scream, 'The grass is greener on this side,' " he continued. "You can't make me look like a bad guy. Everybody knows 112's name, you dance to their records, the guys ain't walking around broke and struggling, and we've done our thing as a label and we stand by that. It ain't no beef. We have the utmost respect [for them], and at the end of the day we don't want nobody rolling with us that don't wanna roll with us. But it ain't no just walking away or treating us like we haven't done a great job."
But the gentlemanly crooners feel Def Jam can do the best job for their careers. They say it wasn't a matter of Island/Def Jam head Lyor Cohen trying to steal them away, as Diddy alleged in February; rather, they were feeling the company's vision and track record.
"As far as we knew, Def Jam wanted us because we were available and it was a perfect merge," Mike said. "Because we was on Bad Boy, we still needed to be on a label that had a street, almost like gutter feel. Def Jam had that feel also. But as far as [Lyor] having a vendetta against Puffy, we didn't really know."
While 112 will have to wait for the judge to make sense of their contract before they can drop their fourth LP, the guys hope to start working on it soon. In the meantime, Daron will be producing for a host of R&B artists and the other guys are working with acting coaches in hopes of embarking on side careers on the big screen.
For a full-length feature on P. Diddy, check out "P. Diddy: Rebuilt From Scratch."