Craig Mack Dead at 46

Rapper Craig Mack, who rose to prominence in the early 1990s and helped jumpstart Diddy’s Bad Boy Records label with his 1994 hit, “Flava in Ya Ear,” died of heart failure at a hospital near his home in South Carolina on Monday, according to the New York Daily News. He was 46.

Mack’s longtime friend and producer Alvin Toney, who worked on his 1994 debut album, Project: Funk Da World, confirmed Mack’s death with the Daily News. Toney told the Daily News he met with Mack as recently as last week. He said Mack told him he was dealing with an unspecified illness.

“He was prepared for whatever comes, to go home to the Lord,” Toney said. “He was prepared to do that. He wasn’t scared. He was ready.”

Mack is survived by his wife and two adult children.

Craig Mack.
Image via Getty/Raymond Boyd/Contributor

Mack, who hailed from Long Island, first started rapping under the name MC EZ in the late 1980s. But he caught his big break a few years later while working as an assistant to Long Island rap legends EPMD. Mack was introduced to Sean “Puffy” Combs, now known as Diddy, and appeared on the remix to Mary J. Blige’s 1993 hit, “You Don’t Have to Worry.” He was also signed to Diddy’s then-upstart label Bad Boy Records and started working on his debut project, Project: Funk Da World.

Mack released his hit single, “Flava in Ya Ear,” in July 1994. It was the first official release for Bad Boy. He also released a remix of the single, featuring The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Rampage, and Busta Rhymes. The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards in 1995, but it lost out to Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.”

Despite the success of Mack’s debut album, it would be his first and only release on Bad Boy. He split from the label a few years later before releasing his sophomore project, Operation: Get Down, in 1997. It did not enjoy the same success as his first album, and Mack subsequently stepped out of the spotlight and spent much of the last two decades focused on attending church in South Carolina. Still, Mack is widely credited with helping Diddy get Bad Boy off the ground at its start.

Many of those in the hip-hop community are mourning Mack’s death by taking to social media on Tuesday. Erick Sermon, Funkmaster Flex, and others have shared their reactions to Mack’s passing.


Rest In Peace! Good brother… #CraigMack …. Alvin Toney love my brother…

A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on Mar 12, 2018 at 11:15pm PDT

More from Complex

Jay Z Thanks These Artists for Inspiring Him, Releases Induction Speech From Obama

This will be a historic night for Jay Z and the world of hip hop.

On Thursday night, Hov will become the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But before the induction ceremony kicked off, he made sure to give a shout out to all the artists who have inspired him over the years.

Jay shared a list of names in a series of tweets, showing love to everyone from Chuck D and Ice Cube to Drake and Meek Mill to Future and Lil Wayne. It was a varied bunch that included rap godfathers like Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel; Golden Age icons such as Rakim, Queen Latifah, and Kool G. Rap (not for nothing did Hov once declare, “Hearing me rap is like hearing G. Rap in his prime”); former mentors Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane; his contemporaries like Scarface, Redman, Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought, Andre 3000, and the late great Big L; and more, including many new artists who will undoubtedly be thrilled at their inclusion.

And showing that he was in a particularly welcoming mood, Jay even included some people he had beefed with over the years: Jaz-O, Cam'ron, Nas, and Joe Budden. He also makes reference to dimly remembered, long-ago battles against GZA and Busta Rhymes, well before anyone involved was famous. 

You can check out the full list in the posts below. 

He concluded the tweet storm with the following thanks:

And then, one last batch of names.

Okay, two (or three):

And then he thanked Obama and released a short movie—a video message from the former president to the crowd at the induction ceremony.

You can see the speech below.

In the speech, Obama called Jay “a friend of mine.” “I'd like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other. Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today… We know what it's like not to come from much… And so we try to prop open those doors of opportunities so it's a little easier for those who come up behind us… Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he's going to have me beat once those two twins show up. And, let's face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”

Obama then talked about how he was a longtime fan of Jay's work, and got in a slight dig at his successor: “I'm pretty sure I'm still the only president to listen to Jay Z's music in the Oval Office,” he said.

Even after the release of the induction speech, Jay kept the names coming.


More from Complex

Ryan Destiny Talks About Starring in Hit TV Series ‘Star’ on Get Sweaty With Emily Oberg

In this week's episode of Get Sweaty, Emily visits the Dogpound in NYC to get in a workout with actress, singer, and dancer Ryan Destiny. The triple-threat talks about her work on Daniel Lee's successful Fox series Star alongside Naomi Campbell, Lenny Kravitz, and Queen Latifah, and also gives fans an update on her music career.

Watch the full episode above and check out recent episodes of Get Sweaty here.

More from Complex

Madonna to Introduce Pussy Riot Members at Brooklyn Amnesty Benefit

A little over a week after she helped Macklemore and Queen Latifah officiate Grammy marriages Madonna will introduce the recently freed Pussy Riot members at Amnesty International’s upcoming benefit in Brooklyn The show takes place on February 5th at the Barclays Center and will feature performances from Imagine Dragons the Flaming Lips Lauryn…