Craig Mack, the Long Island-born rapper who scored the first-ever hit on Bad Boy Records has died.
Mack’s former producer Alvin Toney confirmed his death to the New York Daily News, saying that Mack died of heart failure at a hospital near his home in South Carolina. He was 47.
Born in Queens in 1972, Mack was obsessed with hip-hop from an early age, and talked his way into touring with rap group EPMD as a gopher before beginning his own career. He viewed the experience as hands-on education in the music business; Rolling Stone quotes him as saying, “All the time I was getting an education, learning about the studio and the road.” That’s when he met Diddy—then going by the name Puff Daddy—outside of a New York nightclub. Mack freestyled for the future mogul, which led Diddy to offer him a record contract.
Mack struggled to replicate his initial success, and he left Bad Boy to release a followup album, Operation: Get Down, in 1997.
Rumors abounded that Mack had joined a cult, and in 2012 had re-emerged as a member of a controversial South Carolina Pentecostal church. The church’s pastor, Ralph Gordon Stair, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, burglary, and assault in December 2017, but Mack continued to attend until his death.
Toney was reportedly working on a documentary on Mack at the time of Mack’s death. Tributes to Mack from hip-hop luminaries like Erick Sermon and LL Cool J have been all over social media.
I'm devastated over the news of Craig Mack.. We just finishing up his new album.. smh.. Rest in Power Craig...— Erick Sermon (@iAmErickSermon) March 13, 2018
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— LLCOOLJ. (@llcoolj) March 13, 2018
Check out his breakout hit Flava In Ya Ear below and a documentary about his life below that