Craig Mack, rapper and lyrical artist, passed away at 46. Michelle Joyce, former director of marketing for Bad Boy Records, confirmed the news.
Although no cause of death has been revealed yet, Joyce mentioned that he had been sick for some time.
Craig Mack died as an iconic artist. He lived a full life enriched first with music and later with spirituality. He laid the groundwork for Sean Combs’ Bad Boy label and made a handful of hits.
His single, “Flava in Ya Ear” debuted in 1994 and was Bad Boy’s first single. It was then remixed by LL Cool J and The Notorious B.I.G. and went on to become even more popular. Former Bad Boy president, Kirk Burrowes spoke to CNN about Mack’s impact on the industry.
“It’s not only one of the greatest debut singles in hip hop history, it launched a label,” he said.
Mack’s death is indeed a blow to fans everywhere, who just celebrated the 21st anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death. The rapper was gunned down on March 9, 1997 in a still unsolved murder in Los Angeles.
Veterans of the rap industry muse that it was natural for Mack to make his label a success. At only 12 years old, he had the makings of a rap legend. Born in Queens, young Mack was already writing his own rhymes at that age. “I knew I wanted to be like LL Cool J and Run DMC,” he said, in an interview with the New York Times in 1995.
From then on, he never stopped writing and composing. He also stated that he loved rap so much, he gave up his education for it. Mack finished high school but didn’t proceed on to further studies since, “there were no courses in rap at college. So I wouldn’t go.”
At the age of 17, he made a minor hit. His song, “Get Retarded/Just Rhymin” was signed to an independent label called Sleeping Bag Records. He also made good friends with Parish Smith and Erick Sermon of EPMD, going on tour with them and working for them.
It was here that he got to know Sean “P Diddy” Combs, who would later launch Bad Boy Records.
Asides from his love for music, he was also eager to learn how the music industry operated as a whole. According to LaJoyce Brookshire, director of publicity at Arista records, he was super “cooperative.”
“All he knew was music, he didn’t know the ins and outs of the [music] business, but he was completely willing to learn,” she said.
While he never became as major a hit as some of his label mates, his contributions to the label cannot be ignored. However, later in life, he left his music family to focus more on his spiritual side. He retired and completely renounced his old lifestyle, including his rap career.
Burrowes said that Mack had decided to completely devote himself and his life to God. He also didn’t feel like rapping anymore and the notion made him [Mack] uncomfortable. Mack was able to connect with his spirituality, though industry natives pressured him to come back and make music, he remained resolute.
Fans everywhere are deeply saddened by his passing. The rapper will be remembered fondly in prayers and wishes of love.
RIP, Craig Mack.