Sad news out of the music world today, as multiple sources have confirmed that rapper Craig Mack has passed away at the age of 46.
News of Mack's death was revealed this morning by his friend and producer
"God bless my friend. He was a good friend of mine,” Alvin Toney told the New York Daily News.
If you were a fan of hip-hop in the 1990s, then you're almost certainly familiar with Mack's work.
Best known for his 1994 hit "Flava In Ya Ear," Mack was a protege of Sean "Diddy" Combs in the early days of the mogul's Bad Boy record label.
Though he was later overshadowed by more successful acts such as the Notorious B.I.G., Mack was considered by many to be one of the most influential rappers of his era, as well as a vital fixture at one of the genre's most iconic labels.
In one of his earliest TV interviews, Diddy described Mack and Biggie as the bedrock of the Bad Boy Entertainment empire.
"This is my life here,” the producer said, gesturing to both rappers.
Mack left the label in 1995 hoping to strike out on his own but found that he had difficulty scoring a second major hit.
Despite the fractured business partnership, Mack and Diddy remained friends, and Mack even made a cameo in the video for Diddy's 2002 hit "I Need a Girl Part 1."
However, Mack was not on hand when Diddy reunited his original Bad Boy crew for an onstage reunion at the 2015 BET Awards.
By that time, Mack had given up on music in favor of seeking spiritual fulfillment at a struggling church in South Carolina.
"Nobody got to understand his story,” Toney said.
“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.”
Toney said that during his last conversation with Mack, the rapper revealed that he was struggling with health issues and didn't expect to live much longer:
"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.”
Our thoughts go out to Mack's family during this difficult time.