Former rapper Craig Mack, best known for his 1994 hit “Flava in Ya Ear,” died Monday night at his home in Walterboro, South Carolina, Colleton County coroner Richard Harvey confirmed to Variety. Harvey said Mack had died of natural causes and stressed that the rapper was 47 at the time of his death, not 46 as many media outlets have reported.
As the first release on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records, “Flava in Ya Ear” was certified platinum and nominated for a Best Rap Performance Grammy in 1995, although it lost to Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” The song featured a video by Hype Williams — whose clips for Missy Elliott, Diddy and others would define the look of mid-1990s hip-hop — and a remix with Notorious B.I.G. (who would soon replace Mack as Bad Boy’s star artist), LL Cool J and others.
Mack, a native of Long Island, followed it with the gold-certified single “Get Down”; both songs were featured on his debut album, “Project: Funk Da World.” He released a second album, “Operation: Get Down,” on the Scotti Brothers label in 1997 but left the industry soon after to focus on religion. He made several attempts to release music in the following years; a mixtape called “Operation Why2K?” emerged in 2012 and an album called “The Mack World Sessions” in 2017.
He was featured briefly in the 2017 Bad Boy Records documentary “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” but declined to participate in the reunion tour around its release.
His longtime friend and former producer Alvin Toney told New York’s Daily News that Mack had been ill for some time and knew he did not have long to live.
“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.”