In 1997, Bad Boy Entertainment was on an unprecedented hot streak, having put three singles - two of them consecutive charters - atop the Billboard Hot 100. On Aug. 30 of that year, they scored a fourth with The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems" - the second time one Bad Boy icon would replace another at the top of the charts.
The year in hip-hop was dominated by The Notorious B.I.G.'s sophomore double album Life After Death (released just weeks after his tragic, still-unsolved murder) and No Way Out, the first solo album by Bad Boy's founder and figurehead, producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. Both Biggie and Puff would trade No. 1 singles not once, but twice. The first occurred when Puff Daddy and Ma$e's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," his first solo single, was overtaken at No. 1 by Biggie's "Hypnotize." Puff's tribute to his fallen friend, "I'll Be Missing You," became an even bigger hit, staying up top for 11 straight weeks.
Ultimately, the only thing that could unseat a tribute to the Brooklyn rap legend was a song by the Brooklyn rap legend. Granted, Biggie doesn't appear on "Mo Money, Mo Problems" until the last verse, and indeed, it was initially slated to go to either Ma$e or Puff Daddy's upcoming albums. Co-producer Stevie J told XXL about the moment that changed. "Ma$e came to me in the studio one day with this 'I’m Coming Out' sample," he said. "So we laid the track first but nobody knew who was gonna get it. And then when Big came with the “B-I-G P-O-P-P-A!” What!? That was Big’s joint. Everybody felt that."
With that unmistakable sample of Diana Ross' Top 5, CHIC-produced smash hit and a striking, Hype Williams-directed music video (featuring that iconic fish-eye lens shot in a lamp-lined tunnel, "Mo Money, Mo Problems" extended the Bad Boy winning streak another two weeks - making Biggie the first artist to have two posthumous hits. And while the track's reign at No. 1 was shorter than Bad Boy's other three, its replacement (Mariah Carey's "Honey") was another Puffy co-production. Can't nobody hold them down, indeed.