Hearts broke as the news surfaced this morning around 3 a.m. that charismatic MC Craig Mack had died. According to sources close to the witty wordsmith, Mack died of heart failure. He was 46.
And while Mack has gone down in history and will forever be remembered as a pivotal part of REVOLT TV Chairman's Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Empire, Mack was linked to another empire first.
An oft-forgotten fact of Mack's career is that before being signed to Bad Boy, the Big Apple-bred MC was lined up to be a part of the trailblazing musical family The Hit Squad. Of course, the crew were led by EPMD, and if Eric Sermon and Parrish Smith hadn't broken up, history could have been a lot different.
Sermon took to Instagram to reminisce on growing up with Mack. He wrote:
"R.I.P to one of my good friends..#craigmack and I was young kids at my grandmother's house listening to red alert and WBLS. Waiting to hear the new rap records to record on the cassette tape... we heard #publicenemy @rakim and @officialbizmarkie one night..we lost our minds.. when I got famous I took him on tour with me..then he went home and signed to the label I was on at the time to show me he belongs with the HITSQUAD...then #EPMD broke up..he was devastated..@alvintoney took him to #puffy #badboy and the rest is history..you will be missed... #ahhhh boyyyy.. #mrbadboy himself....@djdiamondtheartist @lenny_ace @coachbernard."
Redman chimed in on his own Instagram page, writing, "R.I.P C Mack !! welcome to your NEW LIFE brother ! Before BADBOY..You was Hit Squad ! My Tour Brother !! Blessing and Prayers to the MACK family ! He will be truelly missd !"
Former EPMD DJ Scratch shared on social media, as well, relaying his shock upon hearing of Mack's death. He also revealed that the rapper had a project in the works.
"I just got a disturbing phone call. I cannot believe this dude is gone," the turntablist wrote on Instagram. "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."
DJ Premier also shared stories on social media about hitting the road with Mack while on the tour circuit.
"Sad To Hear About Craig Mack Passing...Our First Gang Starr Tour Opening Up For EPMD In 1990 When Craig Was Just A Roadie Setting Up @djscratch Turntables and EPMD's Stage..." Preem remembered. "After Every Gig He and Redman Would Battle The Whole Town In Our Hotel Lobby For Real Every Fuckin Night...Chubb Rock, Father MC and DJ Quik Were Also On The Tour. We Couldn't Afford A Tour Bus So I Drove My Mazda MPV And Followed The Bus With Me, Biggest Gord, Lil Dap & Guru. It Was Such A Family Atmosphere So We Toured Again In 1992 Along With Das Efx, K-Solo and Now Redman Was A Gold Artist Of His Own...This Is 2 Years Before The Bad Boy Label Era. Salute To Alvin Toney For The Confirmation and Also Touring With Us On 2 Of The Wildest Tours I've Ever Experienced In My Career... R.I.P. Mack #MCEZandTroop #GetRetarted @erick_sermon @pmd_mic_doc @redmangilla @ksolo @officialdasefx @djquik."
Sources tell REVOLT that in addition to his documentary, Mack was also working on a new LP.