March 1997: Puff Daddy Begins Bad Boy's Good Year

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Mon, 03/22/2021 - 20:48
Puff Daddy's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down"

On March 22, 1997, Puff Daddy began several months of chart domination courtesy of Bad Boy Records, the label he built from the ground up.

Puff's production style, rich in hip-hop traditions and ear-catching samples of recent pop and soul music, was already turning heads on early albums by Mary J. Blige as well as The Notorious B.I.G.'s landmark debut Ready to Die. After ad-libbing on tracks and appearing in music videos, the stage was set for him to step into the spotlight as a soloist. "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" would become the lead single from that summer's debut album No Way Out, released by Puff Daddy & The Family (a reference to Bad Boy's roster including Mase, Lil Kim, Faith Evans, 112 and The LOX).

In classic Puff fashion, "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," a duet with Mase, is built on a few easy-to-recognize samples: the backbone of the track comes from Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five's "The Message," while the chorus melody is based on Matthew Wilder's '80s pop hit "Break My Stride." Listen closely and you'll also hear a drum break from Michael Jackson's "Rock with You."

Less than a month after its debut on the Billboard Hot 100, the track soared to No. 1 and stayed there for six weeks. Its streak was broken by a two-week run for "Hypnotize," off The Notorious B.I.G.'s final album Life After Death (which came out weeks after his murder and days after "Can't Nobody" began its run at the top). Puffy would rule the top of the charts for nearly the entire rest of the summer, starting with the Biggie tribute "I'll Be Missing You" (No. 1 for 11 weeks), continuing with another No Way Out track, "Mo Money Mo Problems" (which stayed on top for two weeks) and finished up with "Honey," a track Puff Daddy co-produced for Mariah Carey, which sat at No. 1 for three weeks.