“You won’t be around next year…”
Yikes. Words hurt. Especially when they are your own words looking at you from the future, laughing, as the impact of your new reality waits for you like a mugger in a dark alley. Craig Mack’s unintentionally self-fulfilling proclamation from his biggest hit is hard to ignore when the years without seeing his unforgettable face pile higher and higher. The truth is, Mack was more than just the butt of thousands of jokes. He made an impact, albeit brief, on Hip-Hop history that won’t soon be forgotten.
Craig Mack was actually the first rapper on then-Puff Daddy’s then-fledgling Bad Boy label. He famously paired with The Notorious B.I.G. for the B.I.G. Mack promotional campaign in 1994, and his album was released one week after Ready To Die in the fall of the same year. Project: Funk Da World was ignited by its lead single “Flava In Ya Ear.” The track was jazzy bombast propelled into the future via boom bap drums and horn stabs. Easy Mo Bee’s off-kilter production was barely able to contain Mack’s huge voice.
More than the platinum single, the song’s star-studded remix and it’s groundbreaking video changed Hip-Hop forever. Before “Flava In Ya Ear,” remixes usually consisted of a brand new beat, sometimes by a different producer, and often had a new lyrical approach by the artist and guests. What Mack and Puffy did with “Flava In Ya Ear” was bring the mixtape world to the mainstream.
Instead of flipping the production, he had the hottest emcees at the time give their take on the original, the same way they did on the Ron G and Doo Wop tapes that spread around New York City like germs on the A train. The black and white video, with its use of the plain white background and cameos from every big act in the game became the blueprint for countless copycats.
Besides his big hit, Mack put together a solid debut album, including singles like “Get Down” (and it’s classic Q-Tip remix that followed the traditional formula) and “Makin’ Moves With Puff.” Unsurprisingly, his certified gold album was completely overshadowed by a label mate who is now considered one of the greatest to ever pick up a microphone.
Mack was subsequently dropped from Bad Boy, and he released his sophomore album Operation: Get Down to an uninterested public. With a few appearances here and there (notably on the remix to G-Dep’s “Special Delivery”), Mack completely disappeared until last year when the unfortunate rumors of him joining a cult began to circulate.
Still, there are artists that are several albums deep that don’t have one classic song. There are big name acts that don’t have one track that will make people stop what they are doing and head to the dance floor.
If “Flava Ya In Ya Ear” is all that defines Craig Mack’s brief existence in Hip-Hop’s mainstream, he can take solace in the fact that he made a lasting impact.
Update: Commenter ther asked us “Where IS Craig Mack, really?” We probably won’t be seeking out the artists highlighted in this series. But ther, we think your answer can be found at the 1:00 of the video below. Add him to the long list of former Bad Boy artists driven to religion after their dealings with Puffy.
Rap stars come and go. We get attached to their music and before you know it, they disappear to rap purgatory. Well, we here at TSS have decided to reminisce on these gone but not forgotten artists with a new series called “Where The Hell Is…”