In 1997, Sean “Diddy” Combs infamously told the world a decade later Bad Boy would still be standing upon Hip-Hop’s Mount Olympus. While the label and cast of characters are not as revered as they were during B.I.G.’s glory days, Puff’s still here and still very much relevant.
Diddy’s story is one that’s been retold countless times and well-known. It’s built off notoriety for the trail of terrible contracts for artists and the looming “Bad Boy curse.” Yet, the tale also includes a level of respect afforded to a man with a permanent place atop the list of rap’s biggest cash-cows.* Above all, Puff, the artist, has cranked out more than his far share of undisputed bangers and we picked 10 of our favorites.
* – “Respected” is subjective, by the way.
1. Puffy Ft. Jay-Z & The Notorious B.I.G. – “Young G’s”
Look, we never said Puff would have the best verse on these. A standout from 1997’s No Way Out, even vintage Puffy shit-talking (“Can’t relate to motherfuckers who ain’t got no cake”) was nothing more than an appetizer for the main event of Jay-Z and Biggie, both of whom delivered all-time great verses.
2. Puffy – “Run This Town”
Don’t worry about who wrote the lyrics for him. Puff was in rare form for this defiant anthem. Say he didn’t body this track? I dare you. I triple dog dare you. Buddy snapped, but “Run…” often gets thrown under the bus when anyone mentions his best moments on wax. Despite the bad and encompassing the good, Puff’s always been a New York dude. And he’s always put on for his city.
3. Puffy Ft. Cee-Lo & Nas – “Everything I Love”
Puff stuck to what he knew best – stunting and braggadocios lyrics – and fit right in with Cee-Lo’s fervid hook and Nasir’s… well, you know what Nas does best.
4. Puffy Ft. The LOX, Lil Kim & The Notorious B.I.G. – “It’s All About The Benjamins”
For timeless as this record is, it’s a sad reminder of how dominant Bad Boy’s longevity could’ve been had all the chips fallen into place. I’ll make Lil’ Kim jokes all day with the next man, but The Queen B got off something serious here.
5. Puffy Ft. Keyshia Cole – “Last Night”
Regardless if Gucci Mane was correct in his assertion that Puff and Keyshia were f*cking, they belted on a banger in 2007.
6. Puffy Ft. Black Rob & Mark Curry – “Bad Boy For Life”
There goes the neighborhood. Puffy used this public service announcement to confirm Bad Boy was still a force. And to invite some of his famous friends to his housewarming party, including Ben Stiller, Snoop, Ice Cube, Mike Tyson and a Shaquille O’Neal in his prime.
7. Puffy Ft. Usher & Loon – “I Need A Girl”
Following the very public breakup with Jennifer Lopez, Puff was hurt. Lucky to be a free man, but hurt all the same. The end result turned out to be the infectious and surprisingly introspective, “I Need A Girl.” To this day, it remains one of Puff’s finest singles as well as one of Usher’s best features. For Loon, well, this was pretty much as good as it got for him.
8. Puffy Ft. The Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes – “Victory”
“Victory” is one of the ’90s most important singles. It also houses one of the most recognizable Puffy verses in history. Yet, as I said a year ago, this song sucks because it shed light on one fact: Biggie Smalls was only getting better as an MC, if that’s even possible.
9. Puffy Ft. Kelly Price & Black Rob – “No Way Out”
Sometimes–just sometimes–the game and all the drama associated with it are even too much for Puff to handle.
10. Puffy Ft. Faith Evans & 112 – “I’ll Be Missing You”
Some people will say this was a prime example of an opportunistic Puffy capitalizing off his friend’s murder by releasing more music. Instead, I see one of rap’s greatest tribute tracks for a host of reasons. 112’s harmonizing drove the record home. Faith’s hook stuck to the ribs because of what she was saying and her ties to B.I.G. And Puff’s verses were as human as we’d ever hear him sound.
Y’all remember when Peach Ciroc hit? People lost their damn minds.
This isn’t a song, but Puff’s Ciroc endorsement needs to be noted. Imagine a liquor company presenting their business plan to you saying they wanted you to be the face of the brand. All you’d have to do is promote it, and they’ll break off a good chunk in your direction. That’s Puffy and Ciroc. Outside of Dr. Dre and headphones (and Jay-Z/Nets), name a better Hip-Hop personality and product.
Puff’s getting money telling people what they were going to do every weekend anyway.