In a moment that defined ‘90s hip hop and created Puff Daddy's Bad Boy record label, Craig Mack
wrote and released the 1994 hit single "Flava in Ya Ear", one of the first posse tracks to become mainstream in a real way and probably one of the best. He passed away last night around 9 PM in his home in South Carolina of heart failure.
Mack hailed from Queens but lived most of his youth on Brentwood, Long Island where he originally went by MC EZ, spending a lot of time hustling cutting tracks and trying to make it big, to no avail. Until he met Sean "Puffy" Combs, or Puff Daddy, who offered him a spot on the 1992 Mary J. Blige remix, "You Don't Have to Worry", which ultimately gained him a spot in the limelight after it appeared in the movie Who's The Man?
To follow it up, Mack released "Flava in Ya Ear", which gained almost as much hype as the remix that came shortly afterwards, launching the careers of Notorious B.I.G and Busta Rhymes - the music video, in all its black-and-white glory, is like a mascot for the mid-1990s.
Eventually Mack released Project: Funk Da World
around the same time that Biggie released Ready To Die
. The album went gold but Mack was still mostly overshadowed by his label-mates and by Puff Daddy, his label boss, and they parted ways so that his second album, Operation: Get Down
, was released on an indie label. Aside from appearing back on Bad Boy's 2001 G-Dep single "Special Delivery", he's been mostly living a quiet life, and even became a devout Evangelical Christian in more recent years.
"Flava in Ya Ear" was hugely popular in its day and in some sense defined a decade. He was incredibly unique as an artist, with punched-up rhymes and a mouthy, imprecise way of rapping that's a lot of fun to listen to. And like any great ‘90s hip hop artist, he won't be forgotten any time soon.