COLOUR: White EXTRAS: Limited Edition Reissue
No Way Out, the chart-busting, Grammy-winning debut double-album by Sean Combs – aka Puff Daddy – was released by Combs’ own Bad Boy label on 22 July 1997, a few scant months after the violent death of his key signing and friend, The Notorious B.I.G., and the release of Biggie’s second album, the diamond-selling Life After Death.
Combs had started out at Andre Harrell’s label, Uptown Records, where he’d heard Biggie’s raw demo. Founding Bad Boy in 1993, and taking Biggie with him, “Puffy”, as he then went by, had confidently assumed the roles of svengali, producer and hypeman, and with No Way Out he staked his claim to being a frontman, too, ably assisted by a host of 90s rap’s finest, plus his in-house production team, The Hitmen.
While a year’s worth of recording sessions had resulted in much of the album’s material, the impact of Biggie’s death could be felt in later additions to the tracklist, plus in a letter from Puffy to Biggie included as part of the album’s artwork. Across the record as a whole, Puffy’s lyrical concerns continued Biggie’s mixture of (justified) paranoia, gunplay and aspiration.