Puff Daddy and Faith Evans feat. 112 – I’ll Be Missing You

First Hit #1: June 14, 1997

It can’t help but feel mercenary when a song comes out in tribute to a very recently deceased artist. No matter how heartfelt, no matter how well meaning, it still feels a bit like cashing in on the recently deceased. Puff Daddy did lose a friend and collaborator in The Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans lost a husband, so it should feel like some people honestly mourning someone they cared about very deeply. Unfortunately, given that it was written and recorded so quickly, it doesn’t work as intended. Most of the lyrics are empty platitudes rather than feeling personal, and the chorus is simply a weaker variation on Every Breath You Take. But then, because it was put together so quickly, the publishing rights actually belong to Sting – the curse of an unclear sample – and many of the decisions feel like fumbling through grief rather than deliberately trying to make a song for a sad nation. It’s not a great song, to be honest, or a really fitting tribute. It’s a mediocre rap ballad that was elevated in posture because it was well meaning, at least, and has enough generalized nonsense about grieving to be a bit universal. To give everyone the benefit of the doubt, sometimes it’s harder to get your feelings out there than you want to admit, and I’ll Be Missing You feels like an attempt to get those feelings out there without really being able to translate those feelings into a decent song.

Note, this isn’t the only tribute song I’ll be crapping all over, no disrespect intended for the people who they were written about.

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One Response to Puff Daddy and Faith Evans feat. 112 – I’ll Be Missing You

  1. RBerman says:

    Three out of the last four #1 songs featured Puff Daddy. Has he become the new Mariah Carey? The lyrics, while heartfelt, are not only uncreative; they are by turns nonsensical (e.g. “Give anything to hear half your breath”) and contradictory (“[We] Know you in heaven, smiling down while we pray for you.”) One hopes this is the understandable irrationality of the grief-stricken friend rather than just a sloppy sentiment.

    The authorship of the song is even more convoluted than, “words by Faith and Puffy; music by Sting.” The underlying chords are the good old late-50s I-vi-IV-V to which no one can lay claim. But the rapid-delay guitar line, playing each chord as an arpeggio of the 9th (I9-vi9-IV9-V9) was Andy Summers’ creation (borrowed in turn from Edvard Grieg), not Sting’s. The closing vamp also interpolates the line, “Some glad morning, when this life is over,” from Albert Brumley’s depression-era gospel standard “I’ll Fly Away” (Alison Krauss/Gillian Welch version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEA-aPui1A) without credit.

    For examples of equally emotive but more articulate mourning songs, see Patty Griffin’s “Long Ride Home” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oESpK7y2i0) or the traditional English ballad “I Am Stretched on Your Grave” (Kate Rusby’s version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtPDPC8mJGU).

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