In 1969 the first name given to him was Sean John Combs. Fast-forward to 1997, an eventful year in Hip Hop, and he puts out his first album, “No Way Out” as Puff Daddy. 20 years later, on the anniversary of his first album, he is known by many names such as Diddy, Puffy, and P. Diddy, but now you can describe him as a legend.
There is no question that Puffy was one of the most important people in Hip Hop during the 90s. Because of his ear, he would go on to introduce a new melodic sound to the game. His record label “Bad Boy” featured many Hip Hop and R&B artists including Lil Kim, Mase, Faith Evans, 112, and of course, Notorious B.I.G. However, after Notorious B.I.G.’s passing in 1997, “Bad Boy Records” would never be the same sound. Puff even says in his most recent documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” he felt a part of him had died when B.I.G. passed.
With this era of Tupac and Biggie being no longer a voice in Hip Hop, many wondered what was going to come next, especially from “Bad Boy.” On July 1st, 1997, “No Way Out” was released by Puff Daddy and sold around half a million records its first week. Amazing. Although critics would say his rap skills were not necessarily up to par with the other lyricists at the time, the features and instrumentation on the tracks definitely shed light on what type of artist he was and how influential he was going to be.
Notable producers who had worked on the project besides Puffy were J-Dub, Jazz, and Stevie J. Stevie J lent his ear to one of the most widely known tracks “I’ll Be Missing You,” featuring Faith Evans and 112. It featured a sample from Sting’s popular song “Every Breath You Take,” and went on to sell seven million copies worldwide. Giving further credits on the album, Puff gave an appropriate name to the artists featured from “Bad Boy” calling the “The Family.” It marked an era of new beginnings for the label.
Throughout the album, Puffy’s intro to a melody in beats would shape the Hip Hop and R&B era for the rest of the 90s into the 2000s. “No Way Out” is one of the most successful albums to come from “Bad Boy Records,” and reminds us that in even facing tragedy, music can be something to look forward to.
Revisit “No Way Out” below!