NEW YORK — "[There's no] civil war going on at Bad Boy," the label's head honcho, P. Diddy, said Thursday about the rumored dissension in his company's ranks. "Bad Boy's stronger and tighter than ever."
Contrary to his assessment, if you listen to Brooklyn-based Bad Boy signees the Hoodfellaz, they'll expound on their displeasure with P.D. and the beef sounds familiar. Mirroring the turmoil P. Diddy went through with the LOX in 1998, now it's the Hoodfellaz who have gone public about their desire to jump ship.
"A lot of tension is building," the Hoodfellaz's oldest member, 21-year-old Don Morock, said last week about bumping heads with Diddy. "I just think it's time to part ways. We're hurt. We wanted to rock with him ... we thought he wanted to rock with us. Now this is how we're showing our anger."
The Hoodfellaz's biggest gripe is that they've been sitting in the wings since they signed with Bad Boy in 2001, shortly before Diddy's third album, The Saga Continues, was released. The trio, which also consists of Blassy and Poppa Sim, said it has recorded a whole catalog worth of tracks over the past couple of years and that Diddy has broken promises to officially release a single by them.
"He's talking about how he's running [the New York Marathon] 'for the kids,' " 18-year-old Blassy scoffed. "I got a kid, Morock got a kid, what about our kids?"
"On the real, we ain't eating over there," 19-year-old Sim seethed. "They're not paying bills over there. We with the richest man in hip-hop and we gotta do our own thing to get paper."
The main point the Fellaz want to communicate to their boss is that their music is a 'sure thing' if they receive the proper backing.
"The Hoodfellaz — they're like a young group that needed a lot of work so they didn't come out," Puff said bluntly, explaining why it has taken so long for the group to drop a record.
Upset about not being invited to tour with Diddy or be in the video for "Bad Boy 4 Life" (Morock wrote Puff's verse), the Hoodfellaz's ire was further raised when they heard that Da Band would be putting out an album before them (see "Bad Boy's Da Band Await Judgment, Embrace The Cheesecake"), as well as a host of other acts like Black Rob, Mark Curry and Loon, who had been patiently waiting to blow.
"In six months you made [Da Band's album happen], which makes it seem to me that you are fully capable of [putting out other albums]," Sim hissed.
"You got people who would love to be in the studio and they get a chance to be in the studio and they're fighting," Morock chimed in. "We found that disrespectful."
The Hoodfellaz, who ironically performed the theme song for the first season of MTV's "Making the Band," decided to lash out at Diddy's TV troupe, putting out a mixtape called Taking Da Band, which features a bevy of disses levied at the group in interludes and the now infamous title track. They leaked the joke-laced Taking Da Band just a few days before Da Band's LP, Too Hot for TV, hit shelves on September 30, creating a hailstorm of controversy on the radio.
"They can't touch us, bottom line. They know it, Puff knows it, or else they would respond," Morock said.
The Hoods gave Diddy two weeks notice that they were putting out the record, hoping that P.D. would "make things right" by then.
"At the time, what would have made it right was to recognize what he's got and do something with it or let us go," Poppa Sim said. "You did nothing for us. Nothing. Just let us go."
"I said that it wasn't really the right move," Diddy remarked in regards to receiving advance notice from the band about the record. "At Bad Boy, we don't go against the grain of each other. We move in silence, we don't make dis records. That was a mistake that they made. They're young and as the father of Bad Boy, I will handle everything with them. They'll learn from this mistake."
In addition to going after their labelmates, Diddy said the Hoods' other mistake was not making their dis record scathing enough.
"The record wasn't that hot ... anyway," Diddy said. "If you're gonna put out a dis record, you better make somebody go to church. Get them meditating and praying for forgiveness if you gonna make a dis record. When you do something on Bad Boy, do it all the way or don't do it at all."
Perhaps the members will still get a chance to unleash their venom. The Hoods have a new mixtape dropping in December and they haven't ruled out further attacks, but say they want to play it smart while still signed to Bad Boy.
"I haven't really decided it yet," Diddy said referring to how he plans to settle his family business. "I just [want to] make sure that Da Band stays focused on what they have to do. And then when I have time after the marathon, I'll sit down and I'll talk to [the Hoodfellaz]. And I'll handle it like the way we handle family problems — handle it in a positive way and move on."
Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Sway Calloway