Craig Mack, the Long Island rapper who found fame on Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records in the mid-1990s, has died at age 46, his producer confirmed to the Daily News.
Mack — who launched to hip-hop acclaim with the platinum hit “Flava in Ya Ear” in 1994 before being overshadowed by fellow artists such as the Notorious B.I.G. — died of heart failure at a hospital near his Walterboro, S.C., home Monday.
“God bless my friend. He was a good friend of mine,” said Alvin Toney, who produced Mack’s debut album “Project: Funk Da World” and his "Get Down Remix."
Toney saw his dear friend a final time last week.
He visited the former emcee at the Overcomer Ministry church he attends in Walterboro to film a documentary about Mack, and his decision to pass on fame for a life of deep religious conviction.
“Nobody got to understand his story,” Toney said. “I wanted the world to know the talent he had. It was something I wanted people to enjoy, but it was cut short because he was very religious and wanted to go to church.”
Tony said Mack told him during his visit that he had been ill for some time and knew he wouldn’t live long.
“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 children, both adults, Toney said.
As a boy, the Suffolk County native dreamed of making it big like LL Cool J and Run DMC, according to a New York Times profile of Mack. He began penning his own lyrics at age 12.
Mack’s career shined bright with the help of Diddy, then known under the pseudonym Puffy.
The Bad Boy Entertainment founder met the aspiring artist at the Manhattan club Mecca and promised to sign him if he could freestyle to Mary J. Blige. Mack did not disappoint.
Soon, Mack’s star-studded hit, “Flava In Ya Ear,” was born. The song went on to earn a Grammy nomination for best rap solo but lost to Queen Latifah’s “Latifah’s Had it Up 2 Here.”
A remix to the song featured Diddy's other up-and-coming stars, including Brooklyn-born rapper Christopher Wallace, known as Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G. — who was largely responsible for bringing the record label to fame with his hit 1994 album "Ready to Die."
At the time, Diddy declared both Biggie Smalls and Mack the foundation of Bad Boy Entertainment.
“This is my life here,” Diddy said, gesturing to Mack and Biggie Smalls during an interview with MTV Raps. “We all need each other to live and breathe. That’s the way we treat each other.”
Mack departed the label in 1995, hoping to strike out on his own, but further fame eluded him.
He released "Operation: Get Down," in 1997 under the Volcano Entertainment label, but it failed to produce a hit single.
Mack appeared in the music video for Diddy's 2002 hit "I Need a Girl Part 1," but he was missing when Diddy reunited his Bad Boy crew for the 2015 BET Awards, having disappeared from the limelight to pursue his faith at a troubled South Carolina church.
New York hip-hop artists paid tribute to Mack after learning of his death early Tuesday.
“Rest In Peace! Good brother,” tweeted Funkmaster Flex, the Hot 97 DJ who shared Mack’s hits on the NYC station.
Brooklyn’s DJ Scratch remembered Mack as the hardworking roadie who helped set up and break down his turntables on tours.
“I cannot believe this dude is gone,” said DJ Scratch, the stage name for George Spivey. “He just reached out a couple of weeks ago for me to speak on his documentary about his life.”
“Rest In Peace Lil Bro,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
Like Mack, “Just A Friend” rapper Biz Markie got his start on Long Island.
“R.I.P TO MY MAIN MAN CRAIG MACK ANOTHER GREAT ONE GONE,” he wrote.
BY NICOLE HENSLEY
Naira Marley had never planned to be an artist. Originally he wanted to manage the rap careers his MC friends in Peckham dreamed of. In Naira’s mind at least, no-one would want to hear him spit on a beat. He’d moved to Peckham from Lagos aged 11, and kept his strong Nigerian accent. But a chance decision in 2014 changed everything.
“I paid for my mates to go studio ’cos I thought they had talent,” he recalls. “They recorded something and there was space on the track – and they were like, ‘Jump on it!’ I was like, ‘Are you sure? In my accent?’ But I jumped on it anyway.” To Naira’s surprise as much as anyone’s, his verses – delivered in his inimitable Nigerian flow – became the bars that the crew rated the most. He decided to give it another go, this time on a solo track. The result was ‘Marry Juana’, an instant UK street classic.
Fusing gleaming dancehall rhythms with Naira’s gleefully strong Nigerian accent (and lyrics extolling the virtue of getting high every day), ‘Marry Juana’ is generally considered one of the first – if not the first – ‘afrobashment’ tune. With all the attitude of grime and rap, but a melody and dancefloor appeal all of its own, it felt like it could only have come from the streets of South London and was a massive turning point for Naira.
"No-one was doing this before I started, he says. “There was no Kojo Funds, no J Hus, no Mostack. I kinda set the afro-whatever. Now everyone’s on it and it sounds proper.”
And it seems people like him too. Naira enters 2018 as something of an underground legend. He’s shown a wild versatility in his approach, moving from the 120bpm afrohouse of tracks such as ‘Cele’ to last years big UK rap hit ‘Money On The Road’, a melodic fusion of afro melodies and street hustler lyrics that racked up millions of views. The unifying factor in Naira’s music has always been his unique charisma, a chaotic mix of prankster and badman, and his songs skip between jokes and gang chat often in the space of a verse. And his latest tune, ‘Issa Goal’ – an uptempo dance track that fuses UK funky drum patterns with party lyrics – has already been causing waves worldwide, from soundtracking Arsenal warm-ups at the Emirates to being heard on Instagram videos of schoolkids dancing in Lagos. And it’s been enough to make him finally believe that maybe he is going to be an artist after all.
“I can’t lie,” he says. “I can’t get a job in Sainsbury’s or something now, ’cos people would be like ‘Look, it’s Naira Marley!’. That’s who I am now – I’ve got to do music, I’ve got to take it seriously.”
Issa Goal is out now. Naira performs live at Just Jam Reloaded @ Barbican on March 17
By Ian McQuaid - follow him on Twitter
The Glitch Mob is back and arguably better than ever. The trio of artists have once again come together to save the world of EDM from repetition. The Glitch Mob is truly a gift to electronic music that we do not deserve. To say that these guys are on another level, is an understatement. All of these possibly hyperbolic statements are firmly backed up by their latest remix; a beautiful take on Illenium's biggest hit, ‘Crawl Outta Love'.
The Glitch Mob could have actually eclipsed the pure bliss that was the original mix. Their editinjects a signature style that is instantly recognizable. Annika Wells' vocals are elevated and lightly filter to perfectly accommodate the raw sound approach that the TGM took on this edit. I want to find words to better explain how impressive this track is, but like the best music written text cannot do it justice, check it out below.
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