Craig Mack, a rapper who rose to fame with the 1994 hit “Flava in Ya Ear,” died Monday at age 46.
Alvin Toney, who produced Mack’s debut album, “Project: Funk the World,” confirmed the news to the New York Daily News, which reported that he died of heart failure at his home outside Walterboro, South Carolina.
“God bless my friend,” said Toney, who had been working on a documentary about Mack’s transition from fame to a more religious-based life.
“I wanted the world to know the talent he had,” Toney told the Daily News. “It was something I wanted people to enjoy, but it was cut short because he was very religious and wanted to go to church.”
A native of Long Island, New York, he began composing rhymes as a boy and then fell under the wing of Sean Combs, then known as Puff Daddy.
Mack became a signature artist in Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment, along with the Notorious B.I.G., who contributed key verses to the remix version of his first big hit, “Flava in Ya Ear.”
The song earned a Grammy nomination for best rap solo performance.
He largely retreated from the music scene after the release of his second album, but had been working on new material in recent years.
“We just finishing up his new album,” EPDM’s Erick Sermon tweeted early Tuesday. “I’m devastated over the news of Craig Mack.”
I'm devastated over the news of Craig Mack.. We just finishing up his new album.. smh.. Rest in Power Craig…
— Erick Sermon (@iAmErickSermon) March 13, 2018
Other tributes for the hip-hop innovator began pouring in early Tuesday.
“I cannot believe this dude is gone,” wrote DJ Scratch on his Instagram. “Rest in peace Lil Bro.”