Rapper Craig Mack Dead at 47

Rapper Craig Mack Dead at 47

Craig Mack, the Grammy-nominated rapper who rose to fame in the 1990s with hits like "Flava in Ya Ear" and "Get Down," has died. 

Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey confirmed to E! News that Mack passed away at his home in Walterboro, SC just before 9 p.m. on Monday. According to Harvey, it appears he died of natural causes. The star was 47 years old.
 
Having been signed to Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records early on, the Long Island native achieved breakout fame with the 1994 hit "Flava in Ya Ear," which went platinum and scored the star a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance. In an old interview with MTV Raps, Combs called Mack and fellow signee Biggie Smalls his "life" and "foundation."
 
"Craig Mack, you were the first artist to release music on Bad Boy and gave us our first hit," Combs said in a statement to E! News. "You always followed your heart and you had an energy that was out of this world. You believed in me and you believed in Bad Boy. I will never forget what you did for hip-hop. You inspired me, and I will continue to try to keep inspiring others. We will always love you." #badboy4life #ripcraigmack."

He went on to release his first studio album, Project Funk da World, which became certified gold, but overshadowed by fellow Bad Boy Records artist Biggie SmallsReady to Die. Mack went on to release another album in 1997 not under Diddy's label and, by the mid-2000s, had retreated from the limelight. 

A man who appeared to be Mack resurfaced in a video giving testimony and rapping in church, seeming to confirm speculation that he had left his Hollywood life and sought a religious one in South Carolina. "Nobody got to understand his story," Mack's former producer Alvin Toney told the New York Daily News. "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." 

As Toney told the newspaper, he learned Mack had been sick for awhile when he visited him at church. "He was prepared for whatever comes, to go home to the Lord," Toney told the newspaper. "He was prepared to do that. He wasn't scared. He was ready." 

Mack is survived by his wife and two adult children, Toney told the newspaper. 

Meanwhile, more of the rapper's colleagues and friends took to social media to share their shock and condolences. 

"I cannot believe this dude is gone," DJ Scratch wrote on Instagram Tuesday. "He just reached out a couple of weeks ago for me to speak on his documentary about his life. Because Craig was my rodie on tour. He would set up & break down my turntables every night on tour. Rest In Peace Lil Bro." 

"Rest in power Craig," LL Cool J tweeted. "May the almighty embrace your soul & lift up your family and friends. it was a pleasure to know you & rock with you. You $tepped away from the game & did it your way.. I always respected that."