Craig Mack, one of the flagship artists on Diddy’s Bad Boy Records label, passed away from heart failure at a hospital near his home in Walterboro, S.C., on Monday (March 12). He was 46.
The Long Island, N.Y. rapper was known for being a lyrical spitfire delivering clever punchlines and braggdocios rhymes during his brief tenure on Bad Boy. He will be most likely remembered for his platinum hit “Flava in Ya Ear,” which was, arguably, the biggest and most infectious song in the summer of 1994.
Mack’s debut album Project: Funk da World was a fantastic rap collection filled with funk-inspired beats (courtesy of producer Eazy Mo Bee) and punchy rhymes by Mack, himself. Although the album was overshadowed by the success Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, Project: Funk da World showed that Mack could easily stand toe-to-toe next to the lyrically great Brooklyn MC.
Mack would never get an opportunity to release a second album on Bad Boy. He mysteriously left the label and secured an album deal with Scotti Bros. Records. In 1997, he released his second solo effort, Operation: Get Down. Although the LP had a few standout tracks, it didn’t reach the level of success of his previous work.
According to New York Daily News, Craig Mack was working on a documentary about his life with friend Alvin Toney, who co-produced "Get Down" on Project: Funk Da World.
“God bless my friend. He was a good friend of mine,” he 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.”
In tribute to Mack's musical legacy, we compiled a list of the 10 best songs from his discography. Although he didn't have a lot of hits, Mack did not disappoint when it came to delivering braggadocios rhymes and the funk.
Rest in peace, Craig Mack. You will be sorely missed.
"Jockin' My Style"Craig Mack
From Craig Mack’s second album, Operation: Get Down, “Jockin’ My Style” features the New York rhymer spitting lyrically fire at wack MCs who are always biting his flow.
Standout lyric: "But now I'm the man with the mic in my hand / Starving MC's like them kids from Siam / Breaker breaker, it's the funk rhyme shaker / Super duper superb slamming like a Laker / Swimming on MC's like moray eels with mass appeals / Your rhymes are jokes like Dangerfield's."
"When God Comes"Craig Mack
Not only was Craig Mack a fierce rapper, he was also very spiritual. On “When God Comes,” Mack urges the youth to stop the violence and strive for peace. A standout on the Project: Funk da World, it’s a shame the song didn’t get enough attention.
Standout Lyric: "Whatcha gonna do when God comes / You can front now, but when God comes / You can't get strapped for when God comes / Cause you won't know how to act, when God comes."
"What I Need" (Remix)Craig Mack
In 1997, Craig Mack teamed up with Eazy Mo Bee for the remix of “What I Need.” On the song, Mack does what he does best -- spit braggadocious lyrics over a funkified hip-hop beat.
Standout Lyric: "Sit down MCs / 'Cause you know you can't touch shit with dope rhymes like these / My style is incredible / Ask Nat King Cole / He will say Mack is unforgettable."
Another big track from Project: Funk da World, Mack delivers some grimy rhymes over Easy Mo Bee’s funk-driven productions.
Standout Lyric: "MCs now realizing code red / My mac-11 dinosaur is gonna fill ya full of lead (wake 'em up Mack) / Some of y'all are better off dead / 'Cause it's gonna get hotter than the sun up at Club Med."
No one can question Craig Mack lyrical abilities. One can argue that he delivered better punchlines than his Bad Boy labelmate Notorious B.I.G. This bodacious banger is a prime example of Mack’s lyrical power. Yes, he can get real raw and hardcore.
Standout Lyric: "I can get real raw plus my style is hardcore / I'm Craig Mack, comin in at your backdoor / My rhymes hit hard, no games like ping-pong / I'm strong (like who Craig?) Kong!"
"Making Moves"Craig Mack Feat. Puff Daddy
While Project: Funk da World was filled with gritty beats and rhymes, Diddy (or Puff Daddy at the time) wanted at least one radio-friendly song on the album. The melodic get-money anthem, “Making Moves,” didn’t fit on the LP, but Mack made the best of it.
Standout Lyric: "Can't nothing ever stop the Craig Mack plans / To grab MCs and crush 'em in my hands / Like I said before, here comes the Mack / Power-packed in black, to make you see mad graphics."
"Wooden Horse"Craig Mack Featuring Frank Sinatra
Ignore the artwork, the song did not appear on Mack's Project: Funk da World. "Wooden Horse" was actually a white label release that dropped long after "Flava in ya Ear" made noise worldwide. The song most likely didn't get a proper release because Puffy couldn't clear the Frank Sinatra sample. Nevertheless, it's a dope track with Mack delivering his punchy rhymes throughout.
Standout Lyric: "Now inside the streets Craig Mack's a living Legend / Nuclear weapon better watch where you steppin' / Story at 6 and see the film at 11 / You can be Kit but I'm like Frank Drebin."
"Flava In Ya Ear"Craig Mack
Undoubtedly, the classic 1994 banger “Flava In ya Ear” was Craig Mack’s breakthrough hit and brought a whole new sound and lyrical flow to New York rap. For his efforts, the song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1995, but lost to Queen Latifah's empowering anthem, "U-N-I-T-Y."
Standout Lyric: "MCs will run like a bomb threat / I bet, or better yet, make you sweat / Getting hotter than the sun get / Craig Mack is the flavor that rocks from here to Tibet."
"Special Delivery" (Remix)G-Dep Feat. P. Diddy, Ghostface Killah , Keith Murray and Craig Mack
Granted, this is G.Dep’s remix to “Special Delivery,” but Craig Mack delivers a great verse on it. It should be also noted that Mack had already left Bad Boy at the time but agreed to appear on the remix as a courtesy to Puff.
Standout Lyric: "Aiyyo you must wanna be in the Guinness Book of World Records / As the dumbest motherfucker alive / Figuring you gonna survive / You couldn't move through my terrain, even in 4-wheel drive (Vrooom!)."
"Flava In Ya Ear" (Remix)Feat. Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Rampage and Bust Rhymes
This is probably Craig Mack's most well-known song, despite getting lyrically outshined by both Biggie and Busta Rhymes on the posse track. Nevertheless, the song is an indelible classic and the Hype Williams-directed video will forever be one of the greatest moments in hip-hop. Even in slow motion, Mack's hyper-lyrical style shines through.
Standout Lyrics: "It's been three years since you last tear / But now I reappear, your heart pumps fear / To your gut, did your girl's butt / I scraped it, shaped it, now she won't strut."