This morning we were greeted with the sobering news of Craig Mack's passing. He was only 46 years old.
For those of us who were around the New York City Hip Hop scene in the '90s, it was a somber moment, but it also brought back some fun memories. Craig Mack might be known to the greater populace as a rapper that had one major hit, but he was more than that.
He was the match that lit the fuse to Diddy's iconic Bad Boy Records label, announcing to the world that a new, vibrant and robust East Coast movement was afoot in the Hip Hop game.
"Flava In Ya Ear" by Craig Mack. From the album "Project: Funk Da World" (1994). Directed by: Craig Henry iTunes: http://apple.co/1PpkbUU Spotify: http://spoti.fi/22BpcMf Follow us on... Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/badboy Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/badboyrecords Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/badboyentertainment Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/badboyrecords © 1994 WMG/Bad Boy Entertainment
Best known for the enduring classic "Flava In Ya Ear" and its subsequent remix that featured Biggie, LL, Busta and Rampage, Mack established himself as a lyrical force with a unique style and verbal gymnastics that opened up another chamber of emcee'ing.
Mack's robotic, futuristic, George Jetson, crazy flow made people take notice when his cadence floated over Eazy Mo Bee's hypnotic, thumping beat, saying -
I bet you my shit come out fatter,
I got the data, to turn your body into anti-matter.
And just like a piece of Sizzlean,
You'll fit inside my stomach with the eggs and grits between.
The king is what I mean, I mean,
My man get a cup and put some change inside your hand.
Now, hold up, let's make this official,
Everybody must agree that MC's need a tissue.
The funk's my only issue,
I bet your mama miss you and I bet the Mack take off like an MX missile.
Promo CD 2760 Uptown/MCA Records. Prod. by Eddie "DJ Eddie F." Ferrell for Untouchables Ent. Co-produced by Kenny "K-Smoove" Kornegay & Darin "Piano Man" Whittington for Untouchables Ent. Remixed by Sean "Puffy" Combs for Bad Boy Ent. & Tony Dofat for Tone Capone Prod. Rap written and performed by Craig Mack.
Mack was a queens native whose stylistic influences at a young age included Run-DMC and LL Cool J. In the '80s, he was a part of EPMD's entourage. Going on tour with them as a roadie gave him a taste and a feel for the industry that he wanted to be a part of.
"All the time I was getting an education learning about the studio and the road," he once said of being down with EPMD's crew.
When Mack bumped into Diddy outside of Mecca, a New York City club, it was well known in Hip Hop and R&B circles that the young, dynamic businessman and producer was looking to set up his own shop after being fired from Uptown Records. Mack freestyled and kicked his unique flavor in Diddy's ear, and the rest as they say is history.
The subsequent release of Flava in ya Ear and its re-mix blasted Mack, Diddy and Bad Boy into another stratosphere.
"Flava In Ya Ear" (Remix) by Craig Mack featuring The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Busta & Rampage. Directed By: Hype Williams iTunes: http://bit.ly/flavaremix Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1XTKjbU Follow us on... Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/badboy Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/badboyrecords Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/badboyentertainment Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/badboyrecords © 1994 WMG/Bad Boy Entertainment
Mack soon faded away from the music business at his own choosing, and later became a minister after settling in South Carolina.
But there was a mini-resurgence afoot, as Erick Sermon recruited Mack earlier this year, along with Method Man and Mr. Cheeks, to appear on "Come Thru," the first single off Sermon's upcoming album.
"I'm devastated over the news of Craig Mack," Sermon tweeted. "We just finishing up his new album."
I'm devastated over the news of Craig Mack.. We just finishing up his new album.. smh.. Rest in Power Craig...
"It was a pleasure to know you & rock with you," LL Cool J added. "You $tepped away from the game & did it your way.. I always respected that."
Rest in power Craig. May the almighty embrace your soul & lift up your family and friends. it was a pleasure to know you & rock with you. You $tepped away from the game & did it your way.. I always respected that. #RIPCraigMack
Craig Mack, despite his very short window, impacted the game. And despite the fact that he won't be around next year, his rap's too severe and will forever be kickin' mad flava in our ears.