Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Puff Daddy & The Family

Sean Combs goes by many names (and I’m sure most of you know what those names are), but I’ll always refer to him as “Puff Daddy”, which is the name he went by in 1997. After the unfortunate death of The Notorious B.I.G. that year, most would’ve thought that would’ve been it for Bad Boy Records, at least on the hip hop side of things, and those who felt that way were indeed wrong. He was already a star in the making, if you will, prior to Biggie’s death, but that star certainly grew as the summer of 1997 arrived, along with his debut album “No Way Out”. But first, a story if I may.

A couple of weeks after this album was released (July 1, 1997), I went on a family trip to Orlando, Florida for one week (which I REALLY enjoyed). Most of the time during the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking or talking about this album (I surprisingly hadn’t bought it yet), and once I got back to Petersburg, one of the first things I was going to do was buy this album, and that’s exactly what I did around the end of July! I went to my local “Crockett’s Records Tapes & CDs” with a crisp $20 and made my purchase, and needless to say, I was happy as hell when I left the record store that day. That same CD I bought that day is the same one I still have today.

I’m going to dissect this album, and I just want to say that this is the “crowning jewel” in Combs’ discography, as NO other album he’s released since comes anywhere close to matching the quality (and production, which I realize nearly the entire album is sampled in some form) of this album. Easily his best album and it’s excellent.

No Way Out (Intro)- A fairly standard way to begin the album.

Victory (Wow, I still remember going absolutely nuts when I first heard this. This song has Puff’s best verse ever quite frankly, but when the beat drops and Biggie begins his verse, it was on from there. Add in the hype chorus from Busta Rhymes, plus an excellent sample courtesy of Bill Conti’s “Going The Distance”, this is classic material. 5 out of 5)

Been Around The World (Very good song right here with Puff and Mase. I personally liked the forgotten remix a little better. 4 out of 5)

What You Gonna Do? (Good Puff solo here. He’s not saying much, but the beat is nice. 3.5 out of 5)

Don’t Stop What You’re Doing (Another decent song here, this time featuring Lil Kim. 3 out of 5)

If I Should Die Tonight (Interlude)

Do You Know? (Well, this song was ok, but not one of the highlights obviously. 3 out of 5)

Young G’s (Now this is what I’m talking about. Over a smooth Rashad Smith track, Jay-Z and Biggie absolutely steal the show on this one. All things considered, Puff did his best by trying to keep up with those two legends lyrically. 5 out of 5)

I Love You Baby (This was one of the first songs for Black Rob to shine, and he did quite well. At first I didn’t care too much for it, but it grew on me after a while. 4 out of 5)

It’s All About The Benjamins (Remix)- Another classic. Who can forget that classic beat, along with Puff’s opening, “what y’all wanna do, wannabe ballers, shot callers, brawlers”?? This was arguably the best song of the year, and it’s certainly one of the most memorable for me that summer. Puff, Jadakiss, Sheek, and Lil Kim turned in great performances on the mic, and Biggie’s verse ended the song perfectly. 5 out of 5)

Pain (This one was kind of forgettable. Not wack, but nothing memorable. 2 out of 5)

Is This The End? (I was kind of surprised to see Twista on this album. Either way, good song which also featured Ginuwine and Twista. 3 out of 5)

I Got The Power (This was more or less a showcase for The Lox, and it was a very good one. 4 out of 5)

Friend (Puff and Foxy Brown had good chemistry on this one. I still think that Puff’s first verse should’ve been last and vice versa. 3.5 out of 5)

Senorita (I never cared too much for this one, and to this day I’ve only listened to it once, which was the day I bought it. 2 out of 5)

I’ll Be Missing You (As a tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., this was as good as they come, and Puff, Faith, and 112 delievered. 5 out of 5)

Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down (I guess it was a good thing Mase wasn’t all over this album, lol. You would think that “I’ll Be Missing You” would close this album. Time hasn’t been kind to this song for many reasons. 2 out of 5, and that’s because of the beat.)

Rating- 4.5 stars (That may be a little high for some, but I stick by it.)

5 favorite songs- Victory, It’s All About The Benjamins (Remix), I Got The Power, I Love You Baby, & Young G’s

I can still listen to this album today and be put right back into the summer of 1997 just like that. That's one of the keys to a great album, and "No Way Out" still holds up today.

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