Questlove calls "Flava In Ya Ear's" beat a go-to for freestylers, remembers record's impact
“I’m just saying the weekend ‘Flava’ came out, I NEVER heard a dj play a joint like 7 times in a row; this was different.”
News broke early this morning that veteran lyricist Craig Mack has died at the age of 46. And while his catalog may not be as extensive as some of other MCs, his impact was immense. Mack set it off for, and helped lay the foundation for, one of the most beloved, successful and important dynasties of all-time: Bad Boy.
The chart-topping, Grammy-nominated and platinum record “Flava In Ya Ear” helped immediately solidify the label—founded by REVOLT TV Chairman Sean “Diddy” Combs—as force in the streets and clubs but also in retail. Mack’s initial success allowed room for Notorious B.I.G. to develop into the behemoth he became to be, but it also gave Diddy a double-fisted arsenal of talent as he embarked to break two artists simultaneously, a feat that not many execs can accomplish to this day.
Since this morning, thoughts about Mack and his contribution to the culture have been circulating, and the ever so insightful Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson from the Roots gave a critical analysis of Mack’s big hit. He described the Easy Moe Bee-produced instrumental as a rapper’s delight and gave sobering commentary of early death in the culture.
“Man. To be In hip hop culture & live past the age of 50 is a fight to the finish for real. All due respect to #CraigMack. For some reason w exception of a RARE few, like #ProtectYaNeck, #ScenarioRemix —maybe #ShutEmDown remix—-I kinda think #FlavaInYaEar was the hip hop freestylers’ 1st viral instrumental choice. I mean there was always the lunchroom desk & beatboxing. But hip hop really didn’t do straight up instrumentals til like—1988/1989 on 12 inches (lots of DUBS, kinda there to assist mc’s in concert spitting verses w vocal guides?)”
Quest continued, remembering the immediate hard-hitting impact the record had upon its debut.
“But I’m just saying the weekend Flava came out I NEVER heard a dj play a joint like 7 times in a row (rare times were #RebelWithoutAPause & #IKnowYouGotSoul) but this was different: 1st of all this single slowed the east coast down DRASTICALLY (1987-1993 east coast was HYPED! on 100bpm-115bpm)—-Flavor was the sound of weed. Not the previous panic crack era music. Like 93 bpms—just perfect to kick a Freestyle: sparse in arrangement & foooonky—-it’s weird that the flagship song of such a commercial radio dominated label was one of the grimiest underground joints ever. I was actually in London at the time when dj 279 premiered that joint at a party. He played that instrumental like 20 mins straight and I saw like 9 simultaneous ciphers happening in the club. Man I was jealous of that beat. I know #Juicy wound up the winner in that race but man we cannot forget one of the greatest hip hop single debuts in the culture. That song was the gym routine mc’s brushed their skills on. All due respect to brother Craig Mack w/o him & his cant lose single who knows what empire #BadBoy woulda become. Rest In Peace Boyeeeeee.”
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