News broke early Tuesday morning that 47-year-old rapper Craig Mack passed away from heart failure at a hospital near his home in South Carolina.

The Long Island MC is credited with helping Diddy launch Bad Boy Records, with the release of Mack’s 1994 hit single “Flava in Ya Ear,” Bad Boy’s first official release. However, Mack's debut 1994 mixtape Project: Funk Da World was his first and only release through Bad Boy. A few years later, Mack parted ways with the label and then in 1997, dropped his sophomore project, Operation: Get Down, through Volcano Entertainment.

His second offering was not as successful as his first; afterward, he found God and withdrew to South Carolina. There’s evidence of this in a video from 2012, where, in a church service, he renounces rap and embraces “righteousness.” In another video from 2016, during service, he delivers a few fascinating verses a cappella, in his trademark flow. You can watch it below at the 3:15 mark.

However, he recently started making music again. The last four minutes from the aforementioned video from 2016 included Mack’s new song, “Praise the Lord.” The video dropped on the second day of the Bay Boy Reunion show, on May 21; Mack was the only person in the label’s history who declined to show up for the festivities.

Diddy discussed the moment briefly in an interview with Billboard from last summer.

“I don't think anybody was disappointed [Mack didn’t show up]. We kind of respected his wishes,” he said. “In this game, man, people don't realize the music industry only has a one percent rate ratio, so sometimes it's very stressful and it brings you only to places that you can go to and should go to, which is God. We can respect that because if any of us is still here, we'd have to go to him, too. Sometimes, people can't walk back and forth in both worlds.”

Mack didn’t appear in Bad Boy’s 2017 Apple Music documentary, Can't Stop Won't Stop, nor the 2017 documentary, Crazy Like That Glue: The Craig Mack Story, which focused on Mack’s rift from Bad Boy.

Still, at the top of the year, it seemed like Mack was back at it, with a feature on Erick Sermon’s “Come Thru,” which also featured Method Man and Mr. Cheeks. (Mack caught his big break in the 1980s while working as an assistant to EPMD, so his guest appearance was only fitting.) Since Mack’s death, a few people have revealed that they were pushing him to record music.

In a long post from Easy Mo Bee, the artist recalled how he tried to “persuade [Mack] to start making music again. He felt like after giving his life to God that maybe he shouldn't rap again. I begged him and explained to him that he had every right to still praise God through his music. I told him that as long as it was genuine and not a blasphemous gimmick, he could still reach souls and spread his message. Finally, he gave in and said ‘Ok Mo Bee, I'll do it.’”

 

#RIP #CraigMack 1971-2018 The man who rapped "Whatcha gonna do When God Comes?" has unfortunately passed away yesterday on March 12, 2018 Several reliable sources have contacted me saying that it is true that #CraigMack passed away yesterday, March 12. I'll tell you what's so disappointing about his passing away... about 3 months ago or so, I finally got ahold of him and we talked on the phone for over an hour. Most of the call was me trying to persuade him to start making music again. He felt like after giving his life to God that maybe he shouldn't rap again. I begged him and explained to him that he had every right to still praise God through his music. I told him that as long as it was genuine and not a blasphemous gimmick, he could still reach souls and spread his message. Finally, he gave in and said "Ok Mo Bee, i'll do it." I sent him 5 or 6 tracks and then I never heard back from him. I made a follow-up call and still no Craig. Maybe he knew he was about to die but just didn't want to tell me. One of the reliable sources I spoke to not long ago tonight told me that he had told somebody "I'm not gonna be here much longer." God rest his soul. Now I'm thinking about the record we recorded together called "When God Comes." He wanted to be ready. That was always on his mind. I pray that today he has finally made it into the Kingdom Of Heaven because that's all that mattered to him. I'm so in denial. Can't believe he's gone. Bless you, my brother. No more suffering. No more pain. The Lord has called you home and finally said well done. EMB

A post shared by Easy Mo Bee🐝 (@therealeasymobee) on Mar 12, 2018 at 11:38pm PDT

 

 

He never called me back. He knew why. But I didn't. I could feel something wasn't right.

A post shared by Easy Mo Bee🐝 (@therealeasymobee) on Mar 13, 2018 at 2:25am PDT


Sermon also confessed his own heartbreak over Mack’s death, tweeting, “I'm devastated over the news of Craig Mack..  We just finishing up his new album.. smh.. Rest in Power Craig…”

In a new interview with Billboard on Tuesday, Sermon spoke on Mack's forthcoming project, declaring that it's finished. He continued, It's crazy because it's like, the Method Man [single] was a warm-up to get to [the fans]. The record wasn't even finished, I was just seeing how I was going to pull it together... that was just random vocals that I had that we're coming with. It just happened that he didn't get a chance to hear it or see it happen.

Sermon also revealed that Alvin Toney—who signed Mack to Bad Boy—“has the last interview that happened with Craig Mack last month. Two hours worth,” Sermon said. "[Toney] went down [to South Carolina], they went to go eat and there was a barbershop. Craig got a cut and he wanted to tell his story. He finally called five months ago and was like, Erick, I'm not feeling well. I said, What you mean? He was like, Yo. I'm dying. I only have 25 percent of my heart.

So, he called me, Alvin, Funkmaster Flex talked to him, Biz Markie talked to him, Eric B talked to him. About eight of us talked to [Mack]. So, we all knew his situation. We all tried to get down there, but he was embarrassed of the situation and wouldn't let us come down there. Eventually, my boy Alvin got down there... Luckily, Craig Mack came out on time and they ended up getting the two hour interview.

Before Mack worked as an assistant for EPMD, Sermon and Mack went toe-to-toe in a battle around 1982, when Sermon was 14 years old, and Mack was 12. Sermon discussed the battle in a recent episode of The Cypher: “I beat Craig Mack. I think I beat Craig because Craig... used a beatbox person for his beat. I was able to use my DJ Diamond J, who became my DJ for EPMD.”

After “Flava in Ya Ear,” Mack returned to body the 1999 song “Wooden Horse” and a remix of G. Dep’s “Special Delivery” in 2001.