On the 12th of March, the hip-hop community heard the unexpected shocking news of the passing away of NY rap veteran Craig Mack. This is just mere days after former labelmate The Notorious B.I.G’s remembrance day (9th March). Everyone rushed to pay respects via tweets, IG and Facebook posts but for the most part, hip-hop lovers around the globe from Europe to Africa where beyond shocked and for good reason. We will get to that soon but let’s start from the beginning.
Craig Mack born Craig Jamieson Mack is best known for his 1994 smash hit “Flava In Ya Ear” but he actually released his first record in 1988 under the pseudonym MC EZ and even worked as a roadie for DJ Scratch. He alongside Notorious B.I.G were the first 2 acts signed to P. Diddy’s (then known as Puff Daddy) newly formed Bad-Boy records. For the record, Craig Mack was the first to launch the label into the limelight with his outlandish style of rap. A natural performer with a unique delivery that couldn’t go unnoticed on every song he was on. Craig Mack’s aforementioned debut single pretty much catapulted him into worldwide fame and possibly notoriety in some circles. That burgeoning era for Bad-Boy was famous for their hair brained promo tactics especially the Mcdonalds inspired B.I.G Mack. That was genius all the way in.
His debut album “Project: Funk Da World” was certified gold and was critically acclaimed but unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. Rumours of in-house rifts and clash of egos were flying and the interview of Biggie dismissing Craig with a subtle jab didn’t help either. Puff Daddy even unceremoniously announced a second album during an MTV interview as a shocked Craig Mack picked his ears with a “wait, what is going? ” look on his face. By 1995, Craig Mack was out of Bad Boy and we didn’t hear much from the man.
To be honest, he didn’t really disappear but reduced his workload to mere guest appearances. One of the highlights in ’95 was his contribution to Boyz II Men‘s “Vibin” remix which had Method-Man, Treach (of Naughty By Nature) and Busta Rhymes but by then Biggie Smallz was already reigning at the top with his now classic album:”Ready to die”. We didn’t really hear much from Craig till he dropped his sophomore project “Operation: Get Down”. Said album sure had some solid joints like “Jocking my style”, “Today’s forecast” etc but it didn’t quite reach the status of his debut and that marked the mysterious vanishing of the animated emcee. While for the most part of the decade he was quiet as kept, he did appear on G-Dep’s “Special Delivery remix”, dropped a solo cut “Wooden Horse” feat Frank Sinatra (On the “What’s the worst that could happen? soundtrack) and even attempted to drop a 3rd album which was shelved after one single “Mack Tonight”.
it puzzled most fans and colleagues when word got out that he has become a devout Christian, and was seen in a 2012 video repeating for his former “wickedness.” Quite recently I watched a documentary titled “Crazy like That glue- The Craig Mack Story” which detailed his background, rise to fame and the aftermath of it all. I totally recommend it to everyone. In a segment there, another video was shown of Craig Mack testifying and also dropped a freestyle about his devotion to God. I won’t go into the details about the controversial Pentecostal Christian Church Overcome Ministry a sit is something that has been covered and can be easily found on the net but just to summarize, Craig’s family were deeply worried about his connection to said church.
His last prominent feature was on a track with Erick Sermon, Method-Man, and Mr. Cheeks. It was later announced that he was working on a new project with Erick Sermon and possibly another documentary as well. Unfortunately, death snatched him away too soon but we will forever remember him for his wildly entertaining style.