Today In Hip Hop History: Former Bad Boy Artist Craig Mack Passed Away 16 Years Ago

In 2008, Craig Mack, whose 1994 hit single “Flava In Ya Ear” thrilled the era of 90’s hip-hop, died from heart failure near his home in Walterboro, South Carolina. He was 47 years old.

Produced by Easy Mo Bee, “Flava In Ya Ear” audibly captured the exactitude of one of hip-hop’s most celebrated eras. In the early 90s, when East Coast rap was faint in hype, the coming of Craig Mack sparked its resurgence. The remix of “Flava In Ya Ear” featuring Puff Daddy (Diddy), LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and Rampage pushed one of the most iconic rappers to the forefront, The Notorious B.I.G., creating a timeless hip-hop melody.

Mack was signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment when he dropped his 1994 debut Project: Funk da World, making him a Bad Boy Records pioneer. He is the first artist to release an album off of Bad Boy Records, which would become the mecca for East Coast rap of the 1990s and its resurgence.


The distinctive rhymes and flows of Craig Mack are essential to the rutty and sensationally groggy sound of 1990s rap. Before his dawning with Bad Boy, as a young teen under the moniker MC EZ, he released one single “Just Rhymin’” in 1988, followed by “Get Retarded” with his group MC EZ & Troup.

Native to Long Island, which at the time was one of New York’s maturing hip-hop epicenters, Mack was close friends with Parrish Smith and Erick Sermon of EPMD before the golden era duo’s debut and eventually went on tour with them. He helped DJ Scratch, EPMD’s DJ, amass his turntables for performances.

DJ Scratch revealed how Mack disclosed the making of his documentary a couple of years ago, The Roots’ Questlove describes “Flava In Ya Ear” as “one of the greatest hip hop single debuts in the culture,” while Foxy Brown recalls Mack’s sincerity, “Your grace and humility spoke volumes…,” and Diddy declares the late icon as “very important to the Bad Boy legacy.”