Craig Mack

In the poignant words of Questlove, “to be in hip-hop culture and live past the age of 50 is a fight to the finish.”

News of Craig Mack’s death hit social media this morning. The 46-years-old rapper reportedly passed away from heart failure on Monday at a hospital near his Walterboro, SC home, according to the New York Daily News

The Bad Boy Records artist got his first break into the music business as an assistant to the legendary EPMD. After meeting Diddy (then known as Puffy), the two began to work together musically, placing the emcee on the remix to Mary J. Blige’s “You Don’t Have To Worry” in 1992.

Mack provided Diddy with his first platinum plaque and Grammy nomination with 1994’s “Flava In Ya Ear.” Its follow-up single also went gold. However, it was the infectious remix — also credited with introducing hip-hop heavyweight the Notorious B.I.G. to the rest of the world — that cemented Mack’s place in hip-hop history forever.

Mack continued to make music after parting ways with the label, but eventually stepped away from the limelight. Mack’s close friend and producer, Alvin Toney, said that he was working on a documentary about his decision to leave music and pursue the world of ministry at the time of his passing.

“Nobody got to understand his story,” said Toney. “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.”

Mack’s church, Overcomer Ministry, is located in South Carolina.

According to EPMD‘s Erick Sermon, Mack was also working on a new album. No word on if any of that music or any part of the unfinished documentary will be released.

Apparently, Mack had been sick for some time and was prepared for his fate, according to the producer. Mack is survived by his wife and two adult children.

Celebrities have taken to social media to eulogize the rap legend.

Here are a few words of gratitude to remember:

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.

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