This is the third time this week I’ve written about A-list Black folks trending based on unsavory news, and the second time I’ve had to write about a man potentially abusing a famous Black woman performer.
But unlike Keke Palmer’s accusations of domestic abuse against her ex Darius Jackson — who’s mostly famous for being the brother of the guy with whom Molly messed around on that one season of “Insecure” — the allegations against Sean “Diddy” Combs could become a watershed moment.
R&B singer Cassie – real name Casandra Ventura – filed a lawsuit against Diddy, her former partner, in Manhattan’s Federal District Court on Thursday. In the suit, Cassie accuses Diddy of more than a decade of physical and sexual abuse, among other things.
Unsurprisingly, Diddy “vehemently” denied all allegations while claiming she’s trying to extort money. One day after Cassie filed, both parties settled the suit for undisclosed terms.
“I have decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control,” Cassie said in a statement. “I want to thank my family, fans and lawyers for their unwavering support.”
It’s the second lawsuit of its kind against a major Black music executive in a week: Arista Records founder Antonio “L.A.” Reid was sued by former employee Drew Dixon last week in the same court over accusations of sexual assault and harassment.
I often struggle internally when accusations of this nature come out – mainly because we can only conjecture when it comes to the often-conflicting allegations between two people in a relationship behind closed doors. Also, the language in every lawsuit includes a bit of lawyerly finesse.
But I always fall back to the fact that powerful and rich men have proven, since time immemorial, that their tendency toward ain’t-shit-ness is far more acute than most.
It’s also worth noting that Cassie — who has been remarkably quiet in recent years — has enough to lose by publicly leveling such strong accusations against one of the top five most powerful figures in Hip-Hop history. It’s not just her music and modeling career that could be hindered by Diddy’s “friends” looking for an invite to his next Star Island party – it’s the comments section trolls who insist that she’s just out for a money grab.
However, her lawyers say Diddy offered Cassie “eight figures” to not come forward with the allegations. That’s a minimum $10 million – plenty to live comfortably and quietly for the rest of her days if she were just in it for the bread. That hush money offer, along with Diddy’s recent adoption of the “Love” sobriquet, suggests that he likely knew those chickens were headed home.
Also, Cassie didn’t hop on TikTok complaining about Diddy from her car…she lawyered up and filed a 35-page federal suit with incredibly specific details that provoked a trigger warning on the front page.
Those details, which start around the time Cassie came into Diddy’s orbit when she was 19 and Diddy was pushing 40, will send you scrambling to the shower: They involved drug-influenced sexual acts, intimidation, threats to hinder her career and actual sex trafficking. They essentially suggest that Diddy used Cassie like 2-ply tissue paper.
The most headline-courting accusation is that Diddy threatened to blow up Kid Cudi’s car for expressing romantic interest in her in 2012, and that he wanted to “ensure that Kid Cudi was home with his friends when it happened.” Cudi confirmed to the New York Times that his car did indeed blew up at around that time.
That story feels too wild to be fabricated or merely coincidental and would place Diddy firmly in the “capacity for murder” category. It also shines an interesting new light on those long-gestating rumors that he had a hand in Tupac Shakur’s death.
If even a fraction of Cassie’s accusations is true, it underlines the fact that Diddy has been showing us his megalomania for years – albeit a more muted, charismatic version. We’ve seen his dark side in his occasional filmed rages – which always hit a bit humorously – and in how he treated the contestants of “MTV’s Making the Band” under the auspices of “making them better.”
Aubrey O’Day, a “Making the Band” alumna, defended Cassie Thursday while reminding us that she blew the whistle on Diddy years ago regarding his attempts to goad members of her Danity Kane band into sexual acts with him.
The accusations are an obvious analogue to R. Kelly, another rich and powerful musician and producer who was well-positioned to bring young women into his web with the promise of a career. Problem is, it took Kells operating for decades in the open before a multi-evening documentary set in motion the wheels that finally took him out for (hopefully) good.
Many are openly pondering if Cassie’s lawsuit — and Dixon’s lower-profile suit against Reid — will set forth the #MeToo-esque reckoning that seems to be evading Hip-Hop: Def Jam founder Russell Simmons has managed to survive years of abuse accusations – including from his own family. Trey Songz’s status as a terrible human being is the worst-kept secret in the industry. Several tweets since the news of Cassie’s suit have implicated several other big names, with the warning that they’d better brace for the coming storm.
But the issue with Diddy feels differently: He’s a legendary executive like Simmons and Reid, but Diddy is a cultural mainstay who, like his peer Snoop Dogg, has managed to remain relevant in the public eye for the better part of 30 years.
Their quick settlement suggests that Cassie’s allegations hold water and Diddy wanted to do whatever he could to stem that tide. But, as it usually goes with powerful, predatory men, there most likely isn’t just one victim. So don’t be surprised if multiple women come forward against Diddy soon in a manner that not even his deep pockets can protect him from.