Tonight at 10 on MTV, two Wilson teens will try to become members of Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ band.
Jamereo Artis, 19, (pictured left) and Gregory Cox, 19, are two of the hopefuls appearing on “Making His Band,” a reality show aimed at helping the hip-hop mogul put together a back-up band to tour with him.
Cox heard about the show from the mother of his daughter. A keyboard player, he prepared for two weeks for his audition in New York. He made the cut there and was then flown to Los Angeles. He’s been playing keyboards since 2004.
Artis says he heard about the reality show from friends. The Fike High School graduate started playing bass guitar in 2000 at his father’s church in Wilson. Although his musical interests broadened to include secular music, he was a member of a gospel band, Damon Little & Nu Beginning, until quitting last year. But the experience made him hunger for more and he saw the reality show as an opportunity to grow.
“It was time to step up,” he says, “to do something new, something bigger.”
The show could indeed be something really big. In its previous incarnations as “Making the Band,” Combs created a hip-hop group, Da Band, and two R&B groups, Danity Kane, an all-girl group, and Day 26, a boy band. Danity Kane’s two albums both sold more than a million copies; the group also became the first all-female group to debut their first albums at number one. Day 26 hasn’t sold as well, but the exposure from the show helped their first CD debut at number one on the Billboard charts. Da Band released a single, but never really got started; earlier this year “Making the Band 4” chronicled Danity Kane’s break up.
“Making His Band” follows Diddy as he sets to release his own album “Last Train to Paris.”
A hallmark of shows featuring Combs – he’s also produced an ‘Apprentice’ type show on VH1 called “I Want to Work for Diddy” – is the moment when contestants meet the man himself. Combs comes across as a tough taskmaster who aims to make those around him constantly prove their worth and their grit.
“I was shaking all over,” says Artis, laughing of meeting Combs. “It was very intimidating.”
Now back home in Wilson, Artis says his good friends are excited about his appearance on the show, calling him a superstar. But there have been some haters. Naturally, he can’t reveal his fate on the show, but he says his time with Combs was worthwhile.
“It was a great learning experience. I even picked up a new instrument. I can play a little bit of keyboard.”