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
). After departing Bad Boy
, Mack continued recording for his own Mack World Records label after the turn of the millennium. He died in March 2018 at his home in Walterboro, South Carolina; Craig Mack was 47 years old. ~ John Bush, Rovi