In 1997, Puff Daddy dropped off his debut album No Way Out, a nihilistic and defeated reflection on mortality; the dominant theme was largely drawn from the passing of his close friend, The Notorious B.I.G, who passed away earlier that year. One of the most thematically charged singles was the up-tempo and lyrical “Is This The End?”, which enlisted the combined talents of Ginuwine, Twista, and Carl Thomas. Over an eerie, minimalist instrumental (the likes of which feel synonymous with late nineties hip-hop), Diddy deftly reflects on the finite nature of human mortality.
It’s easy to forget that Diddy once held it down on the mic, but verses like this truly established him as a force to be reckoned with; regardless of ghostwriting speculation, the delivery remains on point, as does the passion behind the message. “Do I need a pack a vest for stress so I can rest
Cause even though I’m blessed in my flesh, it all came down to a test, a motherfucker wanna go and put a tattoo on my chest,” raps Puff, setting the tone for Twista to close things out.
On that note, the dexterous Chi-town spitter absolutely flourishes for the occasion, picking up where Puffy left off and then some. “Paranoid like a crackfiend when the gat sing, scream when the bullet hit me in the shoulder,” raps Twista, “don’t wanna die til I get older, try to visualize the beholder.”
Sometimes I be wakin up at high noon
Sayin, “Why me Lord?” — folks thinkin I’mma die soon
I just tell em keep seekin, but when they sleepin
I be concealed up in my room, knowin that it could happen
I’m just tryin to maintin, because the future is untold
Till the static unfolds that the good die young
Please God let a Bad Boy die old