Puff Granddaddy

Arista's Clive Davis is ancient by hip-hop standards, but his bottom line is phat

In the grunge-struck '90s, when record-industry sages were trumpeting Nirvana and the flannel-clad hordes from Seattle as the next big thing, Arista Records president Clive Davis made a huge gamble: he invested millions in hip-hop, a genre many viewed as too troubled to be worth the risk. But the grunge bubble went bust, of course, as did a few of the labels betting on it. Today, hip-hop rolls along as comfortably as Puff Daddy does in his Bentley.

Youth culture may rule music, but Davis, 65, always seems to have the right spin on the future. The year that ended in...

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