Remembering Craig Mack, The Humble Hero Of ‘90s Hip-Hop
Today is the day for remembering Craig Mack, the legend who inspired some of the greatest hip-hop jams of all time. His album Project: Funk da World, along with singles “Get Down”, “What I Need” and most notably “Flava in Ya Ear”, paved the way for an entire generation of rappers. The latter banger was the first single to be released on Diddy’s label, Bad Boy Records, so it only made sense that legends like a Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes, hopped on the official remix.
His death comes at a particularly poignant time, as we’re currently just days past the 21st anniversary of label mate Biggie Smalls’ death. The news of Mack’s passing has prompted fellow artists to speak out on how profound an impact he made on not only their careers, but the industry as a whole. Everyone from Questlove to Diddy took to Twitter to express their gratitude and appreciation for the fallen rapper.
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.
Craig Mack, you were the first artist to release music on Bad Boy and gave us our first hit. You always followed your heart and you had an energy that was out of this world. You believed in me and you believed in Bad Boy. I will never forget what you did for hip-hop. pic.twitter.com/qvnxRTcdXv— Diddy (@Diddy) March 13, 2018
Mack’s legacy lives on. “Flava in Ya Ear” has inspired so many artists over the years, and has been sampled on 54 tracks, providing the backbone for some of the most renowned songs.
Rest in Peace, Mack—for your contribution to music, we are forever grateful.