Diddy is a man who likes to be in control – he’s a rapper, record executive, restaurateur, designer and actor. But by his own admission, the latest chapter in his eventful life has completely overwhelmed him – the birth of his “beautiful, healthy” twin daughters, D’Lila Star and Jessie James.
“To be honest, I can’t get over it,” admits the 37-year-old, whose real name is Sean Combs but who has gone by the monikers Puff Daddy, Puffy, P Diddy and just Diddy in his career. “No matter how many times I’m here looking at them, holding them and kissing them, I just can’t believe they’re here.
“The whole blessing of life and having kids is incredible and you never get used to it.”
The music mogul made it to the birth on 21 December “just in the nick of time”. He was in Toronto filming when he got a call telling him that his partner, former model Kim Porter, had gone into labour at their home in New Jersey. In true extravagant P Diddy style, he had a private jet on standby. He flew home, met Kim at their house and they drove to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Their daughters were born just an hour later, and Sean cut the umbilical cords.
“I wanted to be sure that everything was okay so I hired out the whole hospital wing and eight security guards,” says the multimillionaire rapper.
The girls arrived just two minutes apart – D’Lila weighed 5lb 4oz and Jessie was 5lb. They will share a birthday with their paternal grandmother, Janice Combs, and were named “in honour of two people to have incredibly impacted me and Kim’s lives… our beloved grandmothers”, says the proud dad.
“Looking at the twins, and seeing how pretty they are, I just thank God they came out looking like Kim,” jokes Sean.
“Kim astonishes me. I call her super- woman,” he adds. “She was happy throughout almost all of the pregnancy and that’s what’s really great about it.
“We just found out that the girls are identical – we had tests to confirm it. That’s another miracle right there.”
Can he see the girls’ individual personalities already? “Jessie smiles and laughs a lot in her sleep, and D’Lila is laid-back, but feisty at the same time. It’s hard to tell them apart, though. One has a little bit of thinner hair on one side, but that’s the only way you can really tell.”
D’Lila and Jessie are the first female additions to the Porter-Combs clan – they already have a ten-year-old son Christian together, while Sean has a son, 13-year-old Justin, with his ex- girlfriend, stylist Misa Hylton-Brim. Kim is also mother to 15-year-old Quincy from her relationship wi my kids were born,” says Sean. “People told me that it would feel different being a father to girls, and they were right.
“With boys, you kind of feel that they’re a little bit tougher. I’m pro- tective towards all my kids, but more so with the girls. They’re always on your mind and you don’t want to put them down. It’s more of an affectionate situation.”
Does he think he’ll be stricter with his daughters than his sons? “I don’t think that’s the best way to be,” he says. “I think that children who have been sheltered and whose parents don’t trust them probably have more rebellion.
“The best thing I can do is to really parent them, to teach them right from wrong. I want to talk to them and be like their friend and help tell them what mistakes not to make.
“I like to have a very close relation- ship with my children so they can feel comfortable speaking to me about anything.” Potential boyfriends of his daughters could be quite daunted at the prospect of meeting Sean. “I think people will be surprised at how I handle the situation,” he laughs. “I’m not going to be standing there with a shotgun. But I will, first and foremost,
protect them like I would my sons.”
The exclusive HELLO! photos show D’Lila and
Jessie lying contentedly next to each other – and Sean feels it’s a “blessing” that his daughters already have a strong bond. “Because they’ve got parents who are in the spotlight, it’s a great thing to know that they’ll have each other to lean on,” he says. “And I’ve spoken to twins who tell me it’s the greatest thing, because they have somebody who truly loves them and is their best friend.”
The hip hop star is determined to be a hands-on parent, having never really known his own father, Melvin, who was shot dead in 1972, when Sean was a toddler. His mother worked double shifts to help him through private school and college, and his grandmother, Jessie Smalls, looked after him.
Are there lessons from Sean’s own upbringing that he would like to pass on to his children? “The biggest and first lesson is a faith and a belief in God. I’m not into pushing a religion on my kids, just a belief in God and an understanding of right and wrong. Then also, an appreciation and a respect for the world and for life. I’d like them to understand that you get out of life what you put into it.
“My upbringing was that you have to work hard for everything. I don’t want them to have to work as hard as me, but I want them to understand the way life is and to enjoy it and love each other.”
Sean, who was born in the then- notorious Harlem district of New York, believes his tough upbringing made him the person he is today. “I grew up in a family of working people,” he has said. “I know what it’s like to struggle day after day in a job to put food on the table.”
His mother regarded education as a priority. Aged 12, he moved with
Janice and his sister Keisha to the Mount Vernon district and he attended the private Roman Catholic Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx. He moved on to the prestigious Howard University in Washington, and while there the ambitious youngster persuaded childhood friend Heavy D to sign him as an intern at the label for which he recorded, Uptown Records. Several months later, Sean had quit university and was an A&R executive.
After friction with Uptown Records, Sean – by now known as Puff Daddy – left and formed Bad Boy Records in 1994, which soon attracted artists including Mary J Blige and Usher, while he went on to produce songs for stars such as Mariah Carey and Aretha Franklin.
Puff Daddy branched into performing – his song I’ll Be Missing You, which sampled the Police song Every Breath You Take, was a huge hit. A tribute to his late friend, the rapper Notorious B.I.G, who was killed in 1997, the song reflected some of the tough times Sean has gone through. “I know I’ve been through some bad times and my share of tragedies,” he has said. “But it just made me feel like I got to be a better person to deserve this blessing.” The blessing included his debut solo album, No Way Out, becoming a Grammy-winning hit.
Sean seems to have the Midas touch in business – his latest album, Press Play, went straight to No.1 in the US; his fragrance Unforgiveable became a best- seller; the Council of Fashion Designers of America named him menswear designer of the year in 2004 for his Sean John line (John is his middle name); and last year, his net worth was estimated at $326million.
It’s clear that his own children will grow up surrounded by privilege and opportunities, but is Sean careful not to spoil them? “Definitely. You do want to spoil your kids – you want to make sure they get the benefits from your hard work. But they have to understand how for- tunate they are.
“I think we’ve done a great job with our kids so far. It’s about the way you bring them up and ex- plain things to them – it’s also about saying, ‘No, life doesn’t really work that way – people just can’t have whatever they want.’”
When Sean became suc- cessful, he vowed to give something back to his community. In 1995, he created a series of educational initiatives for inner-city youth called Daddy’s House Social Programs. He ran the New York City marathon in 2003, raising $2million for children’s charities, and he’s also donated more than 100 computers to 500 New York City schools.
“Life is not about money – don’t take anything for granted,” says Sean. “That’s the way I was brought up and the way I want to bring up my kids. And I give thanks to God for everything – through him anything is possible.
“It’s not about the money you give, it’s the time you spend with them – it’s priceless. I wish I could spend more time with them,” he admits. “I do have a busy work schedule and it’s a balancing act – I have to say no to things so I can spend time with my family.” Sean coaches his son Justin’s football team and says he is “definitely a dad who goes to the parent-teacher meetings”.
Whenever possible, the children join him on his tours and work projects around the world. “It’s always been like that,” he says. “But when I tour Europe in March, the girls will be a little too young to travel overseas.”
His older children, he says, “have been so excited about the twins”. “They already love each other as brothers – they kiss and say they love each other all the time.”
Could he see his children following in his footsteps? “Our youngest son, Christian, wants to be a performer – he’s already been bitten by the bug. He’s started writing rap songs and going to different dance classes. We encourage him and help teach him. He’s also a straight-A student right now.”
Life in the Combs household is certainly not quiet, but Sean says that Kim is coping with the pressures of motherhood. “She’s doing great,” he says. “And she’s almost all the way back to her regular size – she’s certainly been blessed with that.”
The couple first started dating in the mid 1990s but split in 1999. He went on to have a high-profile relationship with Jennifer Lopez, but he and Kim reconciled in 2003, with Sean saying that he had always loved her.
The larger-than-life rapper, who is known for his love of parties, has said he “would love to get married” but “isn’t ready just yet”. “A lot of guys out there get married, and they still do their own thing. I don’t want to get married and fail.”
He has, however, discovered what a good relationship means. “If you love somebody you don’t force it. You don’t love them because of what you can get out of them. Now I really want to try to get it right.”