Faith Evans

Sean P. "Doo-Wah-Diddy" Combs better thank the Lord on a daily basis that he still has Faith Evans in his corner. The invincible shine of his Bad Boy Records empire doesn't gleam as brightly as it did back in its mid-'90s prime. Those days when Craig Mack, Total, Mase, the LOX and, of course, the Notorious B.I.G. were all in the stable ruling the R&B/rap/pop strata are so very long gone it's almost like they never happened.

When the Puffman tried to reignite that spark by trumpeting surly rapper Shyne as the next big thing a while back, the young turk unfortunately had to take the rap -- pardon the pun -- for Combs's alleged criminal indiscretions. And every new artist -- designated soul stud Carl Thomas, Nas-sound-alike Black Rob, all-white candy girls Dream -- that does manage to get an album stamped with the Bad Boy seal of approval has been greeted by audiences as Combs's latest pitiful attempt at staying something close to relevant in the biz. (At least he hasn't reduced himself to the level of Master P, who's using his elementary-school-age son Lil' Romeo as a meal ticket.) So it must be pure loyalty -- or pity -- that keeps the ravishing R&B siren and widow to the Notorious B.I.G. true to her Cristal-swigging, gun-toting, Hamptons- residing boss.

Whether she knows it or not, Evans gives Bad Boy that smidgen of respectability (hey, she's still over there, so they must be doing something right) the Diddy Man so dearly needs. The Fordham dropout and mother of three's third album, Faithfully, has been certified gold, and her new single, "I Love You," is one of those Top 20 mainstays you just can't resist. Ol' Puffalicious should stop appearing on TRL every other day so he can keep his eyes on the real prize -- the sultry den mother of the Bad Boy family -- unless he wants Faith to lose, oh, you know.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey