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Charting Black Excellence | Kim Porter was a music muse

Da’Shan Smith

 // Nov 16, 2018

'Charting Black Excellence' celebrates black artists and their current accomplishments on the Billboard charts, which often don't receive the proper recognition and attention.


This week’s Charting Black Excellence is a sudden change and somewhat of a late night writing. What was planned to be an honoring of Missy Elliott, Dallas Austin, and Mariah Carey being nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame will be delayed until next week. This is due to the sudden death of Kim Porter, the former longtime partner to Diddy and mother of four of his six children.

As I reflect on life a bit more in my early 20-somethings, I’ve come to appreciate more of what it has in store for the future. When situations like a death arise—particularly of surprising circumstances like Porter’s—this feeling intensifies. As the unfortunate news circulated online, the first person to text me about it was my own mother.

That personal moment reflected that the news not only touched my soul but also my own mother’s. Growing up on the Combs empire—as many other generations have reflected through social media—the existence of Kim Porter (and her relationship to Diddy) became a part of our pop culture. The images of a strong black family displayed for the public to admire through better and worst remained persistent throughout the years. It was reflected on red carpets spanning from MTV’s to Diddy’s crowning Walk of Fame moment.

This edition of Charting Black Excellence is sort of awkward, even if it’s from my own pitching. There’s this balance as a journalist of respecting privacy (particularly if you’re writing about a component of your publication’s Chairman’s private life), and at least honoring what’s right for a sense of communal healing.

As someone who has an eye for how media refers to the black talent that gives us excellence, a shout out has to go out to Genius, who referred to Porter as a “muse.” She wasn’t only Diddy’s muse, but also that for some of the most influential records to exist in music.

As the news circulated of Porter’s death, some soldiers on Twitter decided to remind the public of her musing behind Jodeci’s R&B classic “Forever My Lady.” Written and produced by Al B. Sure, “Forever My Lady” draws inspiration from the pregnancy of Quincy prior to Diddy and Porter’s union—and the former’s subsequent adoption. The chorus ringing with a drawn out “you and I” elevated what the public perceived as the standard R&B love song of the 90s. Although we now consider “Forever My Lady” to be a classic, at the time it only peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991, despite topping the R&B and Hip-Hop charts.

From there, it’s actually difficult to pinpoint where Porter may have left her mark in terms of music, as she modeled and acted. Through her acting credits, she appeared in 2001’s The Brothers, starring Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, and Shemar Moore. Interestingly enough, that motion picture’s soundtrack is akin to the sound of “Forever My Lady” with Dave Hollister (of “One Woman Man” fame) having a song called “Forever” included on it.

Other acting credits include guest roles on TV shows such as VH1’s Single Ladies and the Ciara-led musical Mama, I Want To Sing. However, her greatest motion picture accomplishment is producing the Bad Boy reunion film Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. The documentary chronicled Diddy’s two-night concert in honor of Bad Boy Records’ 20th anniversary.

The saying “behind every black man is a strong black woman” is presented in this light. As many publications will like to highlight the on-and-off factor of Diddy’s relationship to Porter, they also mention a long-standing friendship. There’s a bit of deeper thinking to this actuality: Without Porter’s influence through the good times and the bad, where would Bad Boy Records actually be?

This is where it gets awkward. In respect of privacy, I’m not going to ponder what hit records may have been made through Porter’s musing. Looking into Diddy’s discography, and trying to dig deep into the interwebs to pinpoint the timeline of their relationship, would probably still provide the wrong answers—even if we want to discuss the suspected tunes.

In this moment, it should just be noted that without Kim Porter, Bad Boy Records may not have the legacy it has today. This reality is verified by simply reflecting on how personal relationships can influence one’s work. Their drive. Their ambition. Bad Boy Records has always been centered (through its unapologetic angst) on the value of family and loyalty. And although she may not have had an executive role at the label, Porter experienced most of its 20 year history firsthand through her relationship with Diddy.

But beyond the death, there’s always a legacy left behind. When we look at Quincy and King (Christian) Combs, we’re still experiencing Kim Porter’s legacy in today’s pop culture. Her eldest son (the inspiring source behind Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady”) currently leads the bill as Derek Jones on FOX’s musical drama Star. On the other hand, her youngest, Christian, is reviving the glory days of his father with his own music. His single “Love You Better” with Chris Brown recalling the 90s style of hip-hop soul that Bad Boy helped shape.

All this in mind, it’s best to close this Charting Black Excellence with condolences for all personally associated with Ms. Porter and her legion of fans. May she rest in power.


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