Hip-Hop Pioneer Craig Mack Dead at 46

Grammy-nominated rapper Craig Mack has died at the age of 46.

According to the New York Daily News, the Long Island rapper died of heart failure at a hospital near his Walterboro, S.C., home Monday (March 12). Producer Alvin Toney, who worked with Mack on a number of projects and his longtime friend, confirmed the news and expressed his grief about Mack’s death.

“Nobody got to understand his story,” Toney said in a statement to the New York Daily News. “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.” Toney recently visited Mack at the Overcomer Ministry Church to film a documentary about the former emcee’s departure from music. During that time, Toney states Mack told him he was dealing with an unspecified illness 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.”

At the age of 12, Mack dreamed of making it big like LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C and began writing his own lyrics, according to a New York Times profile on the emcee. However, his big break came years later after meeting Sean “Puffy” Combs – now known as Diddy – and being signed to Bad Boy Records. Mack was one of the first artist to give the label success with his 1994 hit single “Flava in Ya Ear.” Not long after the success of the original, the song was given a remix featuring Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Rampage and introduced the world to The Notorious B.I.G. The song, off of Mack’s debut album Project Funk Da World, received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. In 1995, Mack departed from Bad Boy Records to pursue his faith.

Following the news of Mack’s passing, many artist in the hip-hop community mourned his death and shared their reactions on social media.

Rest In Peace! Good brother… #CraigMack …. Alvin Toney love my brother…

A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on

Man. To be In hip hop culture & live past the age of 50 is a fight to the finish for real. All due respect to #CraigMack. For some reason w exception of a RARE few, like #ProtectYaNeck, #ScenarioRemix —maybe #ShutEmDown remix—-I kinda think #FlavaInYaEar was the hip hop freestylers’ 1st viral instrumental choice. I mean there was always the lunchroom desk & beatboxing. But hip hop really didn’t do straight up instrumentals til like—1988/1989 on 12 inches (lots of DUBS, kinda there to assist mc’s in concert spitting verses w vocal guides?) but I’m just saying the weekend Flava came out I NEVER heard a dj play a joint like 7 times in a row (rare times were #RebelWithoutAPause & #IKnowYouGotSoul) but this was different: 1st of all this single slowed the east coast down DRASTICALLY (1987-1993 east coast was HYPED! on 100bpm-115bpm)—-Flavor was the sound of weed. Not the previous panic crack era music. Like 93 bpms—just perfect to kick a Freestyle: sparse in arrangement & foooonky—-it’s weird that the flagship song of such a commercial radio dominated label was one of the grimiest underground joints ever. I was actually in London at the time when dj 279 premiered that joint at a party. He played that instrumental like 20 mins straight and I saw like 9 simultaneous ciphers happening in the club. Man I was jealous of that beat. I know #Juicy wound up the winner in that race but man we cannot forget one of the greatest hip hop single debuts in the culture. That song was the gym routine mc’s brushed their skills on. All due respect to brother Craig Mack w/o him & his cant lose single who knows what empire #BadBoy woulda become. Rest In Peace Boyeeeeee.

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

Mack is survived by his wife and two adult children.

RIP Craig Mack.

Photo Credit:  Youtube/Bad Boy Entertainment