An above-average rapper blessed with a bit of luck and connections as well as talent, Craig Mack practically made Puff Daddy
's Bad Boy label with a remix of his 1994 hit "Flava in Ya Ear." Based in Brentwood, Long Island, Mack cut his first single while still a teenager, though nothing came of it.
He was working as a go-fer for hometown heroes EPMD
when he hooked up with Sean "Puffy" Combs, who offered him a spot on a Mary J. Blige
remix in 1992. Impressed, Combs offered him a contract on his Bad Boy label, distributed through Arista. What really sold the LP, however, was a platinum remix of the top single "Flava in Ya Ear." Featuring a parade of East Coast talent -- the Notorious B.I.G.
, LL Cool J
, and Busta Rhymes
-- it ranked as one of the first posse tracks to go overground in a big way; a Top Ten pop hit, and number one on the rap and dance charts. Mack returned in 1997 (after having severed relations with Combs) with Operation: Get Down, an executive production of longtime East Coast head Eric B. The album didn't even make the Top 40, and Mack struggled for a contract during the rest of the decade. After recording a few white labels, he returned to Bad Boy with an appearance on Combs' We Invented the Remix LP ("Special Delivery" featuring Ghostface Killah
and Keith Murray
) and announced plans for a new Bad Boy LP. ~ John Bush, Rovi