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One of the hallmarks of the Bad Boy sound in the mid-90s, through the early 2000s, was the in house production from Diddy's hand picked team of producers - The Hitmen.

4 out of 5 of Bad Boy's Hot 100 #1 singles were produced by The Hitmen. In fact, 12 of Bad Boy's 15 Top 5 singles, on the same chart, were also produced by The Hitmen or, at least, Bad Boy managed producers. On top of that, 21 of Bad Boy's 28 top 10 Hot 100 singles were produced or co-produced by someone in this group. Suffice to say, the majority of Bad Boy's biggest hits were crafted by it's in house production team.

In addition to Diddy himself, the team has consisted of such decorated producers as Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie, Steven "Stevie J" Jordan, Chucky Thompson, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence and Mario Winans, as well as a number of others.

But, in recent years, in house production on Bad Boy albums has dwindled. The old members of The Hitmen had, presumably, moved on and, though we heard the group's name brandied about in numerous interviews (some of those related to Jay-Z's "American Gangster"), on MySpace pages and elsewhere, we really weren't sure: who are The Hitmen now? Does such a thing even exist any longer?

The album booklet credits certainly weren't doing anyone any favors, since none of the producers we thought might be apart of the collective were credited as producing for The Hitmen. For example, in his production work on "American Gangster", Mario Winans is credited as "Yellow City Entertainment/The Senate", while Diddy, LV and Sean C were credited as "Grind Music/The Hitmen/Bad Boy Entertainment".

D-Dot's recent interview with brought this issue up, once again. In order to provide some clarity, I reached out to Francesca Spero, who heads Bad Boy Music Publishing. Her responsibilities include the management of Bad Boy's producers.

According to Spero, The Hitmen do still exist. But, it's a little complicated. To her, "The Hitmen" isn't a label placed on just any producer that Bad Boy signs. She feels that the term indicates a definite relationship with Diddy and not all of the producers Bad Boy manages have had that one on one time with the boss, working on tracks - just yet, anyway.

So, who's in this mystery team? Mario Winans and Seven Aurelius are considered to be the "senior" members of the group. Winans is obvious here, but even though Seven is new to Bad Boy, his discography features a long list of work with established artists, mostly due to his time working with Murder Inc./The Inc. Diddy, Winans and Seven still fit that old Hitmen model of working together on tracks.

Antwan "Amadeus" Thompson is a newer member to the group, which also includes D-Nat (also known as The Natural) and Bink!, a producer that Bad Boy has managed for a number of years. Besides "The Hitmen" producers, Bad Boy also manages Ryan Leslie and co-manages the Track Kingz production team.

LV and Sean C, despite what has been reported and said in interviews, are not managed by Bad Boy. At one point in the recent past, Diddy was toying with the idea of putting a team together consisting of them, members of the old Hitmen unit (including D-Dot), and others. But, for different reasons, it didn't work out and, all things considered, it was probably a bit of a long shot at the start.