After being cleared earlier this month of gun and bribery charges in a high-profile trial that riveted rap fans and celebrity watchers alike, rap star Sean "Puffy" Combs is counting his blessings, and changing his name.
A jury on March 16 acquitted Combs of all gun and bribery charges stemming from a shootout inside a packed Manhattan nightclub that left three people wounded and sent other patrons scrambling for cover.
In an interview with MTV News' Sway Calloway, Combs said that while waiting for the verdict he was calm and had faith, but there was also a certain level of fear.
"Being innocent or only accused of a crime you have like a deep confidence cause you know you didn't do it," Combs said. "But then also it's the scariest thing because you envision, like, well, what if something goes wrong, I'm gonna be doing some time for something that I didn't do. You know, that's like the worst thing you can imagine."
What About J.Lo?
He declined to say whether the Club New York shooting put a strain on his relationship with actress-singer Jennifer Lopez (who goes by the nickname J.Lo). The high-profile pair split up during the trial and she has started dating someone new.
"The only thing I'll say about Jennifer is she's somebody I'll always love…and we'll always be friends," he said. "I mean we're regular people and I know a lot of people are like Jennifer Lopez and Puffy Daddy but that's Jennifer and I'm Sean and we're regular people and sometimes relationships don't work out."
When the time is right "we'll meet again," he said.
After a 14-month ordeal, then a six-week trial, Combs said he just feels thankful to God.
God and Good Lawyers
"Man, I just feel blessed," he said. "You know the first word that comes to mind, I was in a situation where the only way I could come out of it was God," he said. "By putting my faith in God no matter how good my lawyers were, no matter how much celebrity I had. There was nothing, you know, everything was just stacked up against me."
Combs said that while sitting in the trial, he heard things that he knew weren't true and realized he had 12 people in control of his life. But now that he's back in control, he's starting off by changing his name.
"When I come back I am changing the name. No more Puff Daddy," he said. And while the name change won't be quite as extreme as that of Prince, who changed his name to a symbol for several years, it's a definite thing, he said.
"You know, out with the old, we done beat the Puff Daddy name up enough," he said. "So probably like the first week in June we are going to have a name change ceremony."
A Fresh Start
In fact, he would like former President Clinton to change his name.
"Bill Clinton, I like his style," Combs said. "He is a survivor, they went at him, he is still standing. I'll probably have Elton John still sing "Still Standing" you know. You know to get it really, really spicy."
The new name: P. Diddy.
"And you can call me P. or you can call me Diddy, or you can call me P. Diddy, you know what I am saying?," he said.
Why the name change? Puffy had too much baggage.
"I just need a fresh start," Combs said. "That's all."