Hip Hop Legend Craig Mack dies aged 47

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.

In 1994, Mack released the single “Flava In Ya Ear”—the first song ever released on Diddy’s nascent Bad Boy Records label—followed by a full-length album, Project: Funk Da World. “Flava In Ya Ear” became a top 10 hit on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard rap charts, eventually selling more than a million copies. Ironically, Mack’s greatest success also laid the foundation for the artist who would come to overshadow him on the East Coast hip-hop scene, thanks to the Notorious B.I.G.’s career-making verse on the song’s 12" remix.

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.

Check out his breakout hit Flava In Ya Ear below and a documentary about his life below that