Recently a clip has made its way to the internet of Craig Mack being interviewed. More than likely it was conducted shortly before his passing in March from congestive heart failure at the age of 46. The piece focuses on Craig Mack being swindled by an individual to do an album, driving him to resort to violence. However Craig Mack ironically comes across a gospel song that brings him to tears. This video is only a snippet of an interview so it is difficult to gage the context. One may speculate though that the clip is explaining why Craig Mack had left the record industry and sought refuge in a religious commune that the outside world viewed as a “cult”. When Craig Mack had initially passed in March I felt the media glossed over Craig Mack’s contribution to hip hop. Wanted to dig in and provide a fuller picture of what he did for the culture.
Craig Mack helped launch Bad Boy Records off the ground in a major way with his gold certified debut album Funk Da World. His first single, “Flava In Your Ear” released in 1994 was a smash peaking at number 9 in the pop charts and being certified platinum. The remix consisting of himself, Notorious Big, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes and Rampage propelled it to the next level. It is considered to be one of the most impactful hip hop songs of all time. At the time it served as a high profile launching pad, building anticipation for Notorious Big’s debut album Ready To Die and Busta Rhymes The Coming. In addition to helping LL Cool J back in the spotlight and return to platinum status with the album Mr. Smith. The prior year he had released the project 14 Shots To the Dome which fell short of expectations and had only went gold.
Craig Mack – Interview (VladTV)
Craig Mack – Flava In Your Ear (remix) feat. Notorious Big, Rampage, LL Cool J, & Busta Rhymes
The instrumental was famously sampled years later for Jennifer Lopez’s remix of “Ain’t It Funny” featuring Ja Rule and Cadillac Tah of Murder Inc. Even recently the song was used for a Ford Fusion commercial. Craig Mack’s follow up single “Get Down” enjoyed success as well going gold and cracking the top 40. Just like the first single both “Get Down” the original version and remix by Q-Tip by hip hop heads is considered a classic. Funk Da World would be the only project Craig Mack would ever release under the label.
Craig Mack – Get Down (remix) (prod. by Q Tip)
Puff Daddy in a “Yo MTV Raps” interview would notoriously lie about working on a sophmore album for Craig Mack. Many speculate it was due to the meteoric rise of Notorious Big’s career. Craig Mack’s purpose was to just get in the door and Notorious Big just blew it up. Rumors have come to light that Craig Mack’s next move was to be the first artist under “Deathrow East” an offshoot of “Deathrow Records” ran by Eric B of the legendary duo Eric B and Rakim. This never came to fruition due to Tupac’s death and the demise of “Deathrow Records”. Craig Mack did not just pop out of nowhere and had instant success. He had been putting in work since the 1980’s. Being from Brentwood, New York in his teenage years he had forged a relationship with Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith who would later become the famous rap duo Epmd. He served as their roadie on tours early on. During this time he went by the moniker MC EZ and released a song in 1988 called “Get Retarded” which was getting underground buzz on NYC radio.
MC EZ(Craig Mack & Troup) – Get Retarded
Alvin Toney, the head of security at the time for EPMD saw the potential in Craig Mack and ultimately got his demo in the hands of Puff Daddy in 1993 while he was an intern at one of the most influential record labels of all-time, Uptown Records. This led to Craig Mack’s major label debut on Mary J Blige’s classic remix of “You Don’t Have To Worry”.
Mary J Blige – You Don’t Have To Worry (remix) feat. Craig Mack & Puff Daddy
Based on the impact of Craig Mack’s appearance on Mary J Blige’s song is what led to his signing with Bad Boy. Beyond his album during the mid 90’s Craig Mack would make notable guest appearances on high profile remixes. This would include Boyz II Men’s “Vibin” remix alongside with Treach from Naughty By Nature” Method Man from the Wu-Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes and on Blackstreet’s remix for “Tonight’s The Night” also featuring SWV.
Boyz II Men – Vibin (remix) feat. Treach, Craig Mack, Method Man, & Busta Rhymes
Blackstreet – Tonight’s the Night (remix) feat. SWV & Craig Mack
Ironically, Craig Mack’s last major appearances would be in 2002 on the “Bad Boy” artist G-Dep’s remix to “Special Delivery” along with Puff Daddy, Ghostface Killah, and Keith Murray. As well as the track “And We” off of the Barbershop soundtrack where he appeared alongside P Diddy again as well as G-Dep, Black Rob, and Foxy Brown. Many thought this would lead to the second coming of Craig Mack but it was not to be. When Puff Daddy ran the “Bad Boy Family 20th Anniversary Tour” during 2015-2016 many were hoping that Craig Mack would be on the bill. He was not present and many thought it was due to religious reasons. However it was ultimately due to health issues which led to his passing on Mar 12th, 2018 from heart congestive failure.
G.Dep – Special Delivery (remix) feat. P. Diddy, Keith Murray, Ghostface Killah & Craig Mack
P. Diddy – And We feat. Foxy Brown, Black Rob, G. Dep & Craig Mack
Erick Sermon has revealed that Alvin Toney, his longtime friend and who had helped launch Craig Mack’s career provided him with unreleased vocals. Erick Sermon has been working on putting together one last album. It will give his fans one last time to be reminded why Craig Mack’s name is still relevant in the hip hop world. The lead track “Don’t Worry Mack Tonite” was just released.