Clive Davis dedicates several chapters of his new book The Soundtrack of My Life to the many years he served as founder and president of Arista Records.
While heading up Arista, Davis, through collaboration with LaFace Records launched the careers of Sean “Diddy” Combs, The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Mase and more.
During an interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, Davis opened up about how he first met Puff Daddy when the rapper was only 21 years old.
“We met when he was very young. I think he was 21. In meeting Puffy, he played me some things that he had. He played me Craig Mack, he played me Biggie; he had four cuts of Biggie at the time. His vision and attraction to me was, even though we were a relatively new label [Arista Records], we were a Top 40 powerhouse. It was his vision that hip-hop could go Top 40. I must say he convinced me of it, and we followed his dream together and accomplished just that, with hits from him and Mase and Biggie, left and right.”
Clive talks in his book about a tumultuous time in hip-hop when Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were murdered, an up-and-coming Bad Boy rapper, Shyne, was sent to prison, and Puff Daddy was arrested for a physical altercation with record executive Steve Stoute. Throughout all the ups and downs, Davis says his faith in Puff Daddy never diminished.
“We had a very open and honest relationship with each other. His vision, and our strength and ability of being able to fulfill someone else’s vision was working like a charm. To some extent, in looking back I could be Mr. Magoo. I never had a bodyguard. I was always treated by the hip-hop community with enormous respect.”
In the last five pages of The Soundtrack of My Life, Davis reveals that he has been living as a bisexual since his second marriage ended in 1985. Davis’ coming out has opened up a dialogue about whether or not some rap and R&B artists are trapped in the closet. The 80-year-old music mogul says that he was gratified the hip-hop community embraced Frank Ocean when revealed that his first romantic love was a man.
“I discuss bisexuality because it’s so misunderstood. For me later in life I could be attracted to a woman, I could be attracted to man. Each story is different. I’m very gratified in the case of Frank Ocean that the hip-hop community has embraced him, and maybe we’re reaching that time where people can judge everyone without reference to their sexual preference or identity.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC