On Surviving Diddy (with Shamira Ibrahim) | Crooked Media
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November 30, 2023
Stuck with Damon Young
On Surviving Diddy (with Shamira Ibrahim)

In This Episode

Cultural critic and native New Yorker Shamira Ibrahim joins Damon to contextualize the bevy of sexual assault allegations levied against Sean Combs, plus the mogul’s history of physical violence, harassment, and theft against men and women.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: I actually think part of the reason why many people can actually believe some of what is being said now versus, let’s say, what’s going on with Meg and Tory and why, you know, there was space for speculation is actually because of the way that Puff had many people felt was complicit in the violence against men. [music plays]

 

Damon Young: Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of Stuck with Damon Young. So this week’s conversation is sobering, difficult and traumatic. It’s mostly about Sean Combs, the music mogul known as Diddy, and the multiple allegations of physical and sexual violence against him. We also discuss a few of the men who’ve recently been accused of sex crimes in the past few weeks, a direct result of the Adult Survivors Act in New York. And for this conversation, I spoke to my good friend Shamira Ibrahim, who, along with being one of the sharpest cultural critics working today, is from New York City and was able to provide some more context for some of the rumors following Diddy for decades now. This episode will again discuss some extremely disturbing details of Cassie Ventura’s lawsuit. So please be mindful of and prepared for that if you choose to listen. [music plays] Shamira Ebrahim is a cultural critic and rising star and someone who I’ve always felt was very thoughtful, very conscientious, very delicate. And the one person I thought of to have this conversation with. Shamira what’s good? So I want to have you on today for a topic that is somewhat sobering. And I thought that one, because of your relationship with New York City, with music. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: With hip hop, and also how thoughtful and conscientious that you tend to be with your work, with you’re writing and when you’re on podcasts. I just thought that you were a perfect guest. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: To talk about, you know, just some of the shit that is swirling around in the country right now. Obviously, in regards to Diddy, other really powerful, very powerful men who have been accused of heinous crimes against women right now. Much of this is the result of the Adult Survivors Act in New York City, which allowed adult victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers after the statute of limitations ended for a year long window that closed on Thanksgiving. And so as a result of that, just within the last couple of weeks, we saw so many people that had allegations, lawsuits brought forth against Diddy. Obviously, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, former governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, Jamie Fox, Axl Rose, I guess, what are your thoughts? Just about that part of it right now? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I should stress to say that, of course, I’m aware of a lot of this living in New York having grown up in New York, you know, just being a New Yorker and also someone who has written extensively about sexual assault, both in the entertainment industry and just like sexual assault in general. I think my thoughts are many fold. I feel like I want to start by highlighting, you know, it’s easy to talk about or not easy. I think all this is all very complex, right? But I think it’s flashy to talk about the big stories, right? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: You know, we kind of all enter this by talking about Cassie, right. And even prior to this right a couple weeks prior, or maybe it was a month prior, I might have it wrong. Drew Dixon, who was featured and was the producer and the On the Record documentary, you know, being one of several women who spoke up against Russell Simmons. Right. Also had filed suit against L.A. Reid. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Also, you know, under the Adult Survivors Act. Right. Using the same kind of apparatus and legislation. But one thing I just wanted to highlight is one lawyer had highlighted that there were close to 630 cases filed. You know, a partner, Levy Konigsberg her name was Nicole. And 600 of those cases that she filed were on behalf of formerly incarcerated women who were sexually abused by correctional officers. There are a lot of these cases filed where just regular people, right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Regular working class people who are claiming and alleging to correct harms done to them that are just were never made whole. Right. You know, people who are teachers, people who are regular individuals, not necessarily people were going against big corporations. I mean, you could argue that the prison, you know, industrial complex is a big corporation, right? I don’t want to minimize that. But they’re not going to get the same level of headlines as a New York Times breaking news headline. Right. That goes to all of our phones. Right. Because that’s what happened at all for how it’s for you. But for a lot of us, we literally got a phone alert, right, saying that Puff got sued by Cassie. Right. And that level of significance can’t be overlooked as well. Right. Like the amount of women who took the time to say, hey, you know, I want to be heard, right. Or men as well, or, you know, whoever saying, I want my story, my pain to be feel heard. I didn’t feel heard by the criminal justice system, whatever it was, at whatever time. Right. There are a lot of commonalities in a lot of these cases. Right. Even though they may feel years old, a lot of consistencies I’m seeing as I did go to the police. Right. I did try to file something. My claims went unacknowledged. So even though people keep saying why so many years later, there were times to seek recrimination that it just was minimized. Right. But now, of course, since we are in the business of entertainment and we are in the business of big headlines we have to confront the elephant in the room, which is that we have these huge entertainers, people who are worth a lot of money, people who are highly valuable to the culture, who are highly valued because they are the names behind things that we treasure, the world of music and culture who are now alleged to have done these horrific things. And we have to confront again what we think is more valuable, the lives of people who have been violated or whether or not we can continue to entertain ourselves with the things that they have, you know, ostensibly produced. And that’s a conversation that we have confronted time and again. Right. Unfortunately, way too many times we find ourselves on the wrong side of that conversation. 

 

Damon Young: You know, and I’m glad you brought up the point about particularly like all of the women who I guess have been incarcerated and who allege that people who were, I guess, supervising correctional officers, whoever had committed these acts against them. And so one of the recurring theme and again, this isn’t the only time when these sorts of crimes happen, but one of the recurring themes is that you have women who are in a vulnerable situation, whether financially vulnerable, legally vulnerable or vulnerable, just off of being a certain age. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And put in positions with men who have power, whether that’s, you know, power legally, power, financially power. Socially power, culturally. Right. And so, again, as you were saying, I mean, of course, the allegations against Diddy or against like someone like the mayor are going to make the headlines. But this is something that exists. This is something that exists in the larger scale. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: But with people without the same sort of cultural status. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. Yeah. That power imbalance exists. The power imbalance is manipulated on all spheres. Right. And it reverberates everywhere. Right. And it invalidates people everywhere and robs people of their livelihoods, their quality of life. Right. And those are the stories that kind of reiterate themselves, no matter who the person is. Right. Whether it’s working class or at the elite class. Of course, we tend to focus on the elite class because one, those are the narratives that are kind of always told to us and those are things that we’re kind of obsessed with, right? You know, and there’s a lot of reasons why pop culture is used as a pedagogical tool. Right. But when you speak to people who are survivors. Right. You know, a lot of times the stories are saying, well, if I said something, that person would have ruined my life, right. If I said something, there was no way for me to go right. You know, this person is the one who everybody would have believed. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: And if you read the claims and of course, we should preface this by saying that Cassie settled, right. You know, with Puff. And Puff has claimed that that settlement is not a proclamation of innocence. So I should preface that with all this. But if you read the 35 pages of allegations at her initial claims that, you know, went public, Cassie had repeatedly kind of made clear that I tried to leave several times, and it was made clear to me by lawyers, by people who are in Puff’s camp, by people who worked at the labels, that my career would be a nonstarter, that my life would be made very difficult, that, you know, Puff would be relentless, that my friends would have a very hard time, that potentially violence would happen upon people who would even try to be interested in me. Right. And at what point do you start to feel like it’s futile to resist trying to assert a certain level of independence for yourself? Right. You know, the shock and awe of the claims is damning, right? Of course, there’s really salacious details of like sex trafficking and sexual deviance and all of that stuff. Right. You know, but the bare bones details of, hey, I’m with someone who makes me fear for my life, right? You know, I have really no control of what I want to do and the particulars of what I want to do about it. Right. And if I try to assert myself, it’s clear that I will actually not have any power in the situation or I’m being made to feel that I have no power in this situation. Whether or not that is true or imagined. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: That is a fairly consistent reality, right? You know, when I mentioned the prison industrial complex, that is an actual true reality, whether it’s not something that those, you know, prison inmates feel right, you know, in prison [laughs] you know what I mean, those people dictate how you live day to day. So these are not things that are just like imagined. It’s like those are people how you feel now. I think one thing that I should highlight, of course, is I think with the Cassie suit and I’m not saying this to to minimize any of Cassie’s concerns, I think one thing that came up, of course, is that when Cassie encountered Puff, it is when he was clearly already like at the height of his power, you know, relative cultural power, social power. You know, he wasn’t quite billionaire Puff. Whether or not that billion is actually true. I don’t know the Forbes number. I’m not his accountant, you know, but Cîroc Puff Sean John Puff, you know all the assets Puff daily on Puff. You know, that’s when Cassie is spending time with him, right? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: But the other stuff that are coming up are in the early 90s, right? You know, that is when Puff is at Uptown, right? Where he like, I think one of them is in January 1991 which sorry, this is me kind of speaking as someone who grew up in Harlem. And like just knowing early lore of Puffs kind of ascent into the scene, but like, that’s before. If we believe those allegations, you know, take them just on the strength of the allegations and just accept them as true as we bear them out. Right. That’s before Puff’s infamous City College charity basketball game that led to the podcast where several people died. That was the Summer Nights 91. So Puff is still an intern, right at Uptown. He wasn’t necessarily even anyone of power, right. He hadn’t founded Bad Boy Records, yet he hadn’t even started signing up with teaming up with Biggie yet. Right. He was fully an intern like. Yes mentored by Andre Harrell but he wasn’t a person who was a mover and shaker yet. I think when you think about that and what the ultimate concern about that is that if we assume those allegations to be true, then you take Cassie’s story and you can silo it if you want to put it out, is like, well, this is a man with all the power and money in the world and money corrupts and it makes you evil, right? You know, and this is just a power imbalance or whatever. Right? But if you couple it with all the other alleged allegations and it’s like, well, yeah, at that time, Puff was like a party promoter. Like, yeah, he made a couple thousand, you know, on like, you know, whatever Uptown Mondays, right? You know what I’m saying? But like. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: He wasn’t a mover and shaker in the city then, not in the 90s the new jack swing era where he was trying to you know get down with Tim Dog and them. Like that’s not you know he wasn’t the big influence there. All right so. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: At what point do you like question like okay so it’s not about that like it is what ultimately if again, you accept the allegations as true what people say about specialists who talk about abuse and assaults and general say, about, you know, rape is about power and control. Right. And consent. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: It’s not necessarily about who was doing the power control and consent. It’s just about power, period. Right. And that’s why when we had these irresponsible conversations about, oh, well, that’s what happens when you hang out with a broke man and she gets insecure, he’ll abuse you or, you know, what? When you hang out with a rich man then? Yes. Financial abuse. He’ll then be the one to assault you. It’s like, no, it’s about how we have a loose conversation about power control and we don’t really engage with, like the scale of rape culture altogether. Now we’re in a society where we don’t have conversations about consent. We don’t have conversation about sexual health. We’re in a patriarchal society that’s not safe for anybody of any gender. And people across the gender spectrum are getting abused and assaulted with no space for safety, right? 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And also just for clarity’s sake the Cassie that we are referring to is Cassie Ventura, recording artist and also was Diddy’s I don’t know if girlfriends the term that would be used but they were romantically involved for several years they had several break ups also Diddy allegedly harassed other people that she might have been romantically involved with, including Kid Cudi. Right. So this was, again, a decade long period of harassment and abuse. And I want to get back to the Diddy aspect. And you mentioned, you know, he was alleged to have done things early ninety’s back when he was still Puffy and not Diddy basically right before he made that name change and when Cassie’s allegations first hit the news alerts and then more stuff has just come out it feels like every couple of days there’s like another thing about Diddy. I think the latest thing involves him and Aaron Hall. Right. The latest thing that I’ve read about him just from you being in the city and you being connected to the culture, is any of this been like a shock or a surprise? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: If I’m been absolutely frank. No, it hasn’t been a shock. It’s been upsetting. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: It’s been very upsetting. I have also where some people don’t go down some rabbit holes because, you know, when people start digging into spaces, right, you can see like, okay, now we’re getting into a little bit of conspiracy theory spaces. Right now we’re watching psychics and like all this stuff, right? Let’s pull it back a little bit. Right. [laughs]

 

Damon Young: Well, what do you mean with that? Like with the conspiracy theory, can it be specific about, like some of the stuff that you’ve heard. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: The thing about, especially in post-mortems? Right. I don’t mean like. Yes. Literal post-mortems as well, just like you’re doing, you know, like the postmortem analysis is that you can now start digging through archival content, especially if you did not live through it and apply anything and put spooky background audio and make it look really prophetic. Right? You know what I mean? Now all of a sudden you have somebody putting the dots together and it’s like, Oh my God, they were right the whole time. And it’s like, yes, you have one person saying Diddy’s a bad person. Okay, true, right? People have been saying things he’s a bad person forever, right? But now you’re going to have them say, and Diddy caused the moon landing? It’s like, what are we talking about? Literally, what are we talking about? Right? TikTok is a place where, like, you have to be really good about information filtering, right? Because you can have like a series of really good just like intuitive, critical thinking of like, hey, let’s really parse through like how these things could be connected. And even if they mess on like 20%, at least 80% of it is something worthwhile to really like just actually mull through. And then one person who’s like, well, and then when Diddy woke up on Tuesday, you know, he ate oatmeal. And then on Wednesday he was earing Jell-O. And if you notice when Cassie was eating Jell-O. The next day she was sick and you’re like, okay, well, how did we get here? Right. And there’s a little bit of that happening a little bit, right? You know. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, I have seen a lot of that, you know, or, you know, I just think niggas watch a whole lot of CSI. Listen to a lot of Serial [laughs] you know what I mean? Everyone’s a crime stopper. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: And everybody wants to be a amateur detective. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: And I just don’t think it’s productive. I don’t think it’s healthy or helps anybody. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: It’s not helping Cassie heal. It’s not going to get whatever Cassie believes is justice or these victims believe is justice. Right. Or these victims move forward. Right. You know what I mean? It’s just get you a viral video. Maybe advances a theory, but it’s like the need to be an inner cop. Right. Is just very, very addictive to a lot of people. Right.

 

Damon Young:  But you do have to admit, though, and I agree with you that, you know, the Serial-ification of news, you know, makes things like things that aren’t necessarily meant to be sensationalized become that way. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: And then you have these myths that are fabricated from like these, not even half truths like these. One eight truths. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: That end up becoming part of the lore. Right. But in Diddy’s case, he almost is like the Typhoid Mary of hip hop, where there is just the people who are around him. So many people have died. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: So many people have ended up locked up. So many people have had allegations against him. And this is stretching for like two decades, three decades now. And it’s like even if he hasn’t necessarily been directly connected to all of this stuff, at some point it stops feeling coincidental all of the time. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: I agree. And I’ve actually written about it. Right. I ran obits for I wrote about for Black Rob and I spoke about his health concerns. Right. And how I felt that, you know, Puff or Diddy neglected him. And it’s kind of a pittance for Puff to say something post mortem when Black Rob has like publicly spoken ill of him. And to be frank, I actually think part of the reason why many people can actually believe some of what is being said now versus, let’s say, what’s going on with Meg and Tory and why, you know, there was space for speculation is actually because of the way that Puff had many people felt was complicit in the violence against men, right. That over the years Puff had been complicit in harming men right. Financially people felt physically whether or not they felt like he was directly responsible, but also implicitly responsible by being neglectful as a mogul. Right. You know what I mean? And leading to their disrepair. He has a history of violent outbursts that has been documented. And, you know, he has been known to lose his temper. That is physically documented. People forget that he put hands on Drake. People forget that he put hands on a USC coach and that even though that made it to TMZ, we literally never saw footage of a college football facility, a man throwing a kettle ball on a head coach. 

 

Damon Young: Where everything is taped [laughter] every every second of their day. If you’re a USC football player is taped or at least once you enter like practice in a training facility, everything is on camera, everything you do. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: But we know he threw that kind of ball because it was really like, so we know he has a habit of losing his temper, right? There have been rumors for years of him losing his temper and scuffles here and there. Right. So people know his record of how he puts his hands on men, how he has left men in disrepair. Right. There have been rumors over the years of how he has mishandled women even around the time of Kim Porter’s passing. I mean, yes, there were some more conspiratorial people who felt that maybe he was complicit, but I’m not thinking about that. It was more so that there were people who felt like he was opportunist about Kim Porter’s passing of like he was a widow. What it was like, Well, you weren’t even really around Kim when that happened. Right. And now you’re going to be like, that was your great long lost love, right? And so there’s a lot of, I think, around now not necessarily saying, oh, I’m not surprised. It’s more so. Okay, well, this is definitely super upsetting, super shocking. The scope of the allegations, right? 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Is a lot, right? Reading the detail, reading the level of trauma that Cassie is detailing is a lot to take in, right? 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: But these are things that people have alluded to. Some pieces like here there are over years. And so it seems to be that because of some pieces of, you know, Puff’s violent past, some people are not altogether surprised by the level of violence that Puff is capable of, especially because they’ve experienced the violence themselves. It’s not necessarily because they value woman. I don’t want to be so generous as to say that. 

 

Damon Young: I’m glad you asked that point because that’s the first time I’ve actually thought of it that way and that. One thing that that kind of makes this distinct, you know, from other men who have been alleged with heinous sex crimes is that people pretty much believed this immediately. Like there hasn’t been the sort of wide skepticism that usually occurs with this sort of thing happens. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And again, I think your point about how he has been known to just be a shady motherfucker, like, that’s like, part of his brand. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: There was a thread on Twitter sometime last week about how hot 97 used to just let, like, rappers used to just call in, like, who were beefing and argue with each other on air. You know, famously, you know, 50 and Cam’ron.

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Well, Cam’ron just started teasing them, calling him Curtis over and over again. So there was that. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Oh, follow up famed track Curtis, which I still play. Don’t think I don’t. [laughs] Anyways, continue. 

 

Damon Young: And then there’s for me, even more famously, is with, you know, the locks we’re going that Diddy. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: And when Jada said, I’m trying to quote this verbatim, that a security guard will not stop a double decker [laughs] refrigerator falling off a skyscraper from landing on you. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Reinforced stainless steel refrigerator. And that he followed up. But it was so much brouhaha that people didn’t really hear it. Well, people heard it, but like, there was so much, you know, whatever that it didn’t get caught quickly because I think they would have probably shut down the conversation but he definitely said that security can’t stop bullets. [laughs]

 

Damon Young: Yeah. Yeah. And I do remember him saying that part. Okay. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: He definitely said that. 

 

Damon Young: But again, this is like someone who compels someone who makes someone so angry that they threatened to throw a refrigerator off of a skyscraper on you. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And then also, you know, we saw Making a Band. We all watch how, you know, he treated the contestants on that show and the eventual members of the band. And again, when this was happening, it was entertaining. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. I thought it was. I thought it was I personally thought it was hilarious when I was watching Making a Band in, what, 2002 or whenever that show aired. But it’s another one of those things that I think, to your point is like, oh, these things are more likely to be believed now because he has a history of acting this way against men. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And there are already men who already feel this way about him. Right. So that level of skepticism that usually exists, you know, doesn’t exist here. And even to your point about how he took advantage of like, this wave of sympathy after Kim Porter passed, and I’m even thinking about how two of his biggest tracks, particularly like in the 90s, were I’m Missing You, which, you know, came after Biggie passed. And then the I Need a Girl remix in the video which came after he you know, J.Lo broke up with him. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: And in just two more examples of him using traumas that he, you know, may have contributed to allegedly. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: For musical gain. For cultural gain. Back with more after break. [music plays]

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Someone like Puff is all about the spectacle. I am curious if I am honest about how he chooses to navigate this. It is an interesting moment because while you and I are both in agreement that people have generally been like whatever he did, many people believe that there is some level of complicity on his end, especially when there is, you know, some of the allegations like the Aaron Hall videos people have recirculated some of that old, you know, content saying, well, some of this is low key very suspect in retrospect. Right. But I think that there is still a level of hesitation for a lot of legacy Black media publications to really talk about this in depth. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: And if there’s one thing that Sean Combs loves is its spectacle, right? That is how he has mastered the pivot over the decades. It’s to come out with a new brand, a new relationship. A new album a new project a new venture and really get people to buy into the lifestyle of it and demand people to give it all this attention. Right? The Revolt Network has, you know, built a lot of connections with a lot of the trajectory of right now the kind of quote unquote, “New Black media” over the years. Right. So the big podcasts, the way that digital media has evolved. Right. And you have seen and or at least I have seen and noticed a bit of hesitance on how to approach the conversation. Right. So there’s been a little line item, media acknowledgment. Right. So it has happened. We’ll see how it plays out. Right. Or a subtle bit has happened. I wish the best for Cassie and Puff. Right. [laughs] And then just kind of put it over to the side that even if there’s an internal acknowledgment that there has been a collective, oh, he probably did it right. No one settles with the of with that probably cleared eight if not nine figures. We’ll never know the actual numbers. Right. You know, in under 24 hours. Right. With that level of you know courteous if especially within, you know, the Black community with you know, unless there’s just a level of hesitation as to like how everything will shake out. And so I’m just curious as to, you know, how Puff is going to navigate his flair for extravaganza right. In the coming months. This is a man who in the next four months, we have the Grammy party. Right. The Grammy events. Right. You know, the next spring, he has his annual Hamptons white party. Is he going to still throw that party? Is he going to pretend that, oh, the party held by Revolt, that he’s going to move away? Like these are things that, like, I think, dictate what the atmosphere really is, Right. And his actual social currency and how people actually are going to respond to the attitude. Because again, like I mentioned earlier in the conversation, every time that we actually approach these things, right, because these are civil suits. Like as far as we know, the NYPD is not launching a investigation or building a case. Every time we do these things, we debate, okay. We’re arguing about whether or not we are going to disengage or we’ve decided that this person is too valuable to us to dispose of. And we almost always are on the wrong side. Right. You know, and I think we’re going to have that threshold sooner than people realize. Right. And I’m wondering where people are going to land. Right. And it is our job, as, you know, part of media, as much as we, you know, talk about media censorship and being gatekeepers of the truth and gatekeepers of history to actually, you know, do the asterisk or say, Sean Combs, someone who has been credibly accused on multiple civil suits of sexual harassment and assault. Right. You know, like that asterisk for, you know, the immediate future, the same way it took a while for R. Kelly. The same way. Now, Russell Simmons has that asterisk for a while to come. Right. You know, and I’m wondering what is going to happen as the you know, everything kind of continues to take its toll for Puff. He has lots of deals, but I don’t know if that’s really going to materially shift things for him. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah, we were talking about this earlier today with the producers on the show just about preparing for this interview. And one of the questions that I brought up and it’s something that I’m still thinking about now. Okay. Whereas this is two part. First part is, yeah, you have like Russell Simmons, who is he even allowed back in America yet? Has he been back to the States yet or is he still in Bali or?

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Yeah, he comes back for like 12 hours at a time. Like long enough that no one files a suit on him. Right? You know what I mean? Yeah. [laughter]

 

Damon Young: And so it’s a question of will there be any sort of like consequence that is like that for Diddy? Like it’s just sort of consequence where even though Russell Simmons is free technically right now, he again, he comes in he peaks in, you know, in Harlem, and then he has to bounce. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Mm hmm. 

 

Damon Young: Right. And so do you envision anything like that for Diddy or do you think that because he has so many tentacles in the culture right now, that it would be more difficult to distract him completely? And also, he is the person who, again, he wants to be on camera. He wants to be in the spotlight. He wants to go on the podcast and do all the things. And so what happens with someone like him? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Yeah, I am unsure. I think it really depends on on who advocates for him publicly. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: I think it depends on a few things. Like I do think that they probably will have different motivations for how they move separately. You know what? I think they’ll probably make different decisions. I really think it depends on who advocates for them publicly. Russell did have a lot of very, very loud advocates, very, very loud advocates. And it helped him at first. Right. Like in the sense of, you know, people continue to shun him out of words. Right. You know, like he had support in the mayor of the city. I don’t know if that will really matter right now all things considered. Right. You know, but I think right now is not a time where people will want to use up all your social capital. I think there’s a concern about everyone’s kind of worried about where the cookie crumbles depending on what stories come out. I think that is a very interesting, unique situation right now for a lot of people. Right. You know, I don’t know how long that kind of tenuous level of nervousness lasts, but that seems to be a walking issue right now where a lot of people feel nervous about how, okay, what stories are about to fall out or what stories are about to come out. And there’s a level of like, okay, I don’t know how far I can advocate because it was the old days. This is just how the industry worked. Like that kind of level of it is what it was, just doesn’t hold muster anymore, even if it doesn’t end up being a legal conversation. 

 

Damon Young: And to your point, you know, recording this on a Monday, this airs on the Thursday. There’s a possibility that more things will come out just in the time that at a time between recording and publishing. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Right. Because again, it feels like every other day there’s like a new thing. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: There’s a new thing. So I could see people waiting until the smoke clears or more smoke clears before they make an official stance. But you know, your point about the asterisk right now, we have someone like R. Kelly who had decades of crimes. Right. Was finally convicted, was finally imprisoned. And also, you know, there are still some people who self-righteously oh, you know, you got to separate the mammoth and music. I listened to Step In The Name Of Love this morning while brushing my teeth. Like you have niggas like that who exist. Right. But I think that for most people, at least most people in the circles that I’m in, if R. Kelly comes on at a party, if a DJ, or, R. Kelly wouldn’t come on out the party, the DJ  probably is not going to be playing R. Kelly right now. Okay. And so you have someone like him who has like this cultural mastery, but then you have people like Russell Simmons, like Diddy, like Dre, who, you know, arguably the three most impactful people in music, at least the 90s and possibly, you know, carrying on into the early aughts who all have serious allegations. Well, I don’t know. Dre has allegations of sexual violence, but he definitely has allegations of violence against women. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: And, you know, Russell Simmons. Diddy. And so I guess and this is kind of lower on the totem pole of concerns about like the audience and, you know, in how we reckon with, you know, consuming things, made by people like this. But do you have any thoughts about that? Because it’s something that, again, I feel like the R. Kelly thing is more cut and dry is more is easier. But when you have someone who has been a part of the production of so many different things, so many different groups, then it’s like, okay, how do you reckon with that as a consumer? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right? I mean, I think everyone makes the choice that they want to make as an individual consumer. I will say that the best thing probably arguably that Puff did [laughs] recently was give the publishing back to the artists and stop taking it for himself. So like from an ethics perspective, you could arguably say you’re giving money back to the artist and that he stole for thirty years, if that’s how you want to look at it, right? Like just being honest, because that was a huge part of the conversation, right? That especially when it came to Biggie, when it came to a  lot of these artists that, you know, took 50% of the publishing, sometimes a hundred percent, whatever it was, right. They were locked in these contracts. Even in Cassie’s, you know, lawsuit. She said she was at a ten album deal in 2006. I actually loved Cassie’s bops down. Right. Me and You, on it. Right. You know what I mean? Long Way 2 Go. Wore it out. Right. Cassie, did not need a ten album deal. Like, just do not right. But it’s just like the way that he had approached these conversations. Like, if you want to think of her from an artist ethics perspective and you want to think about as opposed to just, Oh, we’re putting money in Puff’s pocket or whatever, you could arguably look at it as whatever, like The Lox just got back their publishing. They’re publishing. You’re giving The Lox their money back. Right. You know, even though if you’re just putting it on Spotify, you’re giving them .001 cents. Right. But if that’s one way to think about all of this is going to be very complicated as we navigate it. You know, there’s some stuff that I do just not listen to, right? You know, some stuff is easier than others, right? I was never listening to Tory Lanez for example, I’m not going to listen to Tory Lanez. Right. [laughs] You know. But everyone chooses what they want to do. Like, I don’t listen to Chris Brown. Right. 

 

Damon Young: It’s crazy how Tory Lanez has so many more fans now, when again, before all this stuff with Meghan, he could have been performing on the desk that I’m recording this podcast on and I’ve been like, Who is this little nigga. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. 

 

Damon Young: Standing on my desk performing right? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: I’ll be fair to him and say he had a demo, he had a target demo. It was just not us. Right? 

 

Damon Young: [laughs] Well, who was his target demo? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: There were like 23, and that’s fine, right? 

 

Damon Young: Torontians? [laughter] Torontians, tired of wait is it Torontians?

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Torontonians like. 

 

Damon Young: Torontonians? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Yeah. Torontonians. But. And that’s fine, right? He had a bustling demo. He was doing songwriting and that’s fine. But so for some artists, it’s very easy. I don’t listen to Chris Brown’s songs. I literally have it blocked on Spotify, you know, like some it’s easier than others, right? But sure, you know, Dre produced some very big classic hits that are not just West Coast songs. Right? You know what I mean? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: So people have to choose how they update and filter and make that choice accordingly. And, you know, as these things, you know, settle down, that’s going to be up to them, right? Like do people decide, you know, oh, I’m just not screwing with Def Jam as a whole because of Russell Simmons. Or do you say, oh, this specific era, right? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: That’s up to people, right? Like, I think Russell Simmons is a very specific case. Right? So, yeah. 

 

Damon Young: I also want to ask you about and I feel like this could be kind of a way to just kind of land this also because we’re talking about these allegations. We’re talking about these acts. We’re talking about these many victims. But justice. Right. Like, what does justice look like? Or. I know that’s not like a that’s not an easy question. Might not even be a good question because justice really depends on a case by case basis. Right. But still, I am curious for your thoughts on that. Like, what is justice in these instances look like to you? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: I think justice is not the right question because or I can’t answer that question. Right. 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Because I think it’s almost impossible to find justice in the system that we’re in. Right. But what I can answer is, like, I took time to read the full complaint. I did not have access to the full complaints of the other two women. I did read the details that I had access to for some of the other two women and the details that Cassie had put out. Right. She made certain things very clear. Right. Which is that 1 she wanted the ability to tell her full truth. Right. Just to be able to make clear what she had gone through. Right. Like, hey, I want the ability to tell my full story after like, it took me a while to be able to say this. She had made clear that she had experienced suicidal ideation, had gone through mental health hospitalization. She made it clear that she is going to be living with this for the rest of her life. Right. And not just the trauma of what she had gone through, but that literally all the you know, the section that everybody has talked about, which is like the sex trafficking and everything like that, had also led to her dealing with now a lifelong struggle with drug addiction. And she is going to have to be dealing with that for the rest of her life. Right. So this is something that she is going to be continuing to heal from. It’s not an easy journey for her that it was basically she had been able to really pause, mainly because she had kids and it was a very big fight for her. Right. She had been very, very blunt in about a lot of these things. But I think she had gone into explicit detail and basically, you know, had explained all of the things that she had gone through basically in a demand to say, this is what I’ve gone through. I want to be able to say my truth unfettered without anybody interrupting me. And I want to be able to move on. Right. You know, and if moving on means saying my truth in front of a jury, I’m prepared to do that. Right? They settled it right? 

 

Damon Young: Mm hmm. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: And in her settlement statement, she basically said. I was able to settle my story in a way that made me feel like I was able to have control of my power. Right. So for her having her power, being able to have peace with her life and knowing that she’s not going to be bothered is as close to agency and control of the situation. While making public for the world and put on record. Because, you know, a lot of rumors are circulating about Puff, but not very many have it put on record that, you know, Sean Combs is not a good person, is as close to agency as a serially abused woman can get. Right. You know, while, of course, getting money for her pain and suffering along the way. Right. You know what I mean? And she’s entitled to that, right? You know, for others, it’s one woman kind of, you know, explained how she was sexually abused or she alleges him and Aaron Hall did. And then she alleges that, you know, was physically assaulted after because of Puff finding out, that she spoke to another woman who finds out that she was also abused that night. Right. You know, but she did try to go to the police, all these other things. Right. You know, and so for that woman, it’s just making public. Right. That there were multiple women who experienced that. Right. And that making public that, hey, we did try to say something. We were abused for trying to say something. Right. And multiple women have experienced that. Right. Like these sorts of conversations. Right. Where it actually alleges, hey, we’re ready to go to trial for this. We want a jury trial for this. But we actually did try to document what happened. Right. That we spoke to our friends our therapists. Right. And we corroborated our stories over the years. We don’t want to feel insane. Right. And yes, if you want to give us compensatory damages, then sure. And so I don’t think it’s the solely the idea of justice is not necessarily a statement here. Right. Because justice implies that like there’s a complete system, Right. In which people feel healed and whole. I don’t think these women will ever necessarily feel whole in this system. Right. You know, but there is going to be a sense of at least acknowledgment from whatever parties or they want to feel acknowledged that they have not made this up for 30 years, that they’ve watched somebody become fetid as this, you know, greatest, you know, contributor to Black culture. Right. 

 

Damon Young: And thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that, you know. Have you seen the movie Spotlight about the The Boston Globe, the reporters who broke the story about the the abuse that was happening in the Catholic Church in Boston? 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Yes, yes, yes. It’s been a while, but yes. 

 

Damon Young: Yeah. And so much of this reminds me of that movie, you know, where you have the pervasiveness of this happening. You have this powerful entity taking advantage of vulnerable people, and then you have people who, you know, some people, you know, sued and some people just wanted to get their stories out there. Some people just want to tell somebody or want to be connected with another survivor and get their story out there. And so, you know, to your point, maybe these people who have been abused, assaulted, you know, will never feel whole or complete. But this sometimes sometimes they just want to tell someone that this happened, that this person did this thing to them. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Right. Right. And all the healing that costs money. Do you know how much my personal therapist bill costs? Like, just for me to work out my basic stuff for my mom? Yes. All that stuff it costs to heal and grow. That stuff costs money. 

 

Damon Young: Shamira Ibrahim, thank you again for coming through on short notice. You know, it’s a really, really heavy topic today. And again, you are one of the sharpest and most conscientious cultural critics that I know. And so, again, thank you for for coming through and just being you. 

 

Shamira Ibrahim: Thank you for inviting me. 

 

Damon Young: All right. [music plays] Again, just want to thank Shamira Ibrahim for coming through on short notice to tackle just such a difficult and nuanced conversation. And again, Shamira is this very thoughtful, very careful, very delicate and very smart. And again, thank you to her for that. Thank you to you all for trusting us with your ears, with your attention, particularly with a topic, you know, like the one we talked about today, also Stuck with Damon Young is available wherever you get your podcasts, but if you’re on Spotify, there are interactive questions, quizzes, polls. Please go ahead. Knock yourself out. Have some fun with that. And again, if you have any questions for me whatsoever, hit me up at deardamon@crooked.com. So after two seasons and 54 episodes, next week will likely be the final episode of Stuck with Damon Young. It has been a tremendous run, and I just want to thank everyone at Crooked, Spotify, Gimlet for making this happen. The guests for their brilliance, their vulnerability, their humor. All of the producers who have been pushing, editing and challenging me on such a tight schedule so that we’ve been able to release new episodes each week. And to you, the audience, for allowing me the privilege of your attention. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And I’ll see you soon. [music plays] Stuck with Damon Young is hosted by me, Damon Young. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Kendra James and Madeleine Haeringer. Our producers are Ryan Wallerson and Morgan Moody. Mixing and mastering by Sara Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter Four. Theme music and score by Taka Yasuzawa. And special thanks to Charlotte Landes. And from Spotify our executive producers are Lauren Silverman, Neil Drumming and Matt Shilts. Special thanks to Lesley Gwam and Krystal Hawes-Dressler. [music plays]