Puff Daddy’s legacy has always been aligned with his savvy business practices. That is until he dropped his debut album No Way Out in 1997, one of the best albums of the ’90s that proved Bad Boy could continue its success with the passing of The Notorious B.I.G. The record that propelled Puffy’s rap career into legitimacy was the album’s first single, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down.” Puffy talks about the making of this record, which helped him transition from a hip-hop mogul to a rap star.
As with anything Puff touches, there was a complex process to how “Can Nobody Hold Me Down” came to be, starting with the record heavily sampling Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” as well as interpolating Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.” Puff, Ma$e, and co-producer Nashiem Myrick discuss at length why everyone involved were a bit hesitant to work on the song, as Ice Cube had used the Grandmaster Flash sample on his 1993 cut “Check Yo Self.”
Ma$e also breaks down the writing process for the song, a task Puffy made more difficult for his fellow Bad Boy brethren. And who can forget the accompanying music video, directed by Paul Hunter, which gave “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” a whole new layer of legend. Along with their firsthand accounts, hip-hop luminaries like Dante Ross and Noah Callahan-Bever give context to the song’s impact in rap.
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