Twenty years ago today, on July 22, 1997, hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs released his first studio album, No Way Out, which was an instant commercial success, particularly in the United States where it reached number one on the Billboard 200 in its first week, selling 561,000 copies. It also produced five commercially successful singles, the most successful of these being the worldwide hit “I’ll Be Missing You“, a tribute song aimed at the late great Notorious B.I.G., which became the first rap song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained at the top of the chart for 11 consecutive weeks, whilst topping several other charts worldwide. The other four singles, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down“, “It’s All About the Benjamins“, “Been Around the World” and “Victory“, were also commercially successful. No Way Out not only made Puff Daddy the undisputed face of hip-hop, but also led him to be named as one of Forbes‘ 40th highest-paid entertainers, along with fellow rapper Master P and Oprah Winfrey.
No Way Out earned Diddy five nominations at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998, winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The album would eventually be certified septuple platinum, selling over 7 million units in America. To date, it remains Sean “Diddy” Combs’ most commercially successful album.