Puff Daddy's debut studio album was originally released on July 22, 1997 by Arista Records and Puff Daddy's own Bad Boy Records. The album's crediting of "The Family" references the guest appearances from his label-mates and other artists. Puff Daddy worked extensively with The Notorious B.I.G. and The Hitmen when creating the album, which saw a change in direction following the former's shooting and death a few months prior to release. This greatly affected Puff Daddy, which he expands upon on the album with a combination of aggressive and introspective lyrics, as well as with raw production to convey his varying emotional state before and after his friend's death. Additional production was provided by Rashad Smith and Jaz-O, while the album contains features from The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Mase, Lil' Kim, Carl Thomas, Jay-Z, Black Rob, The LOX, Ginuwine, Twista, Foxy Brown, Faith Evans, and 112.
No Way Out saw significant commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 561,000 copies in its first week of sales. The album's singles also saw commercial success, namely with "I'll Be Missing You", which became a worldwide hit, and the first rap song to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" also peaked at number one, while "It's All About the Benjamins" and "Been Around the World" reached number two. The album also saw widespread critical success, with Puff Daddy being nominated for five awards at the 40th Grammy Awards, winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. It remains Puff Daddy's best selling album and a hip hop classic.