Monday, October 02, 2006

Craig Mack

An above-average rapper blessed with a bit of luck and connections as well as talent, Craig Mack practically made Puff Daddy's Bad Boy label with a remix of his 1994 hit "Flava in Ya Ear." Based in Brentwood, Long Island, Mack cut his first single while still a teenager, though nothing came of it. He was working as a go-fer for hometown heroes EPMD when he hooked up with Sean "Puff" Combs, who offered him a spot on a Mar J. Blige remix in 1992. Impressed, Combs offered him a contract on his Bad Boy label, distributed through Arista. What really sold the LP, however, was a platinum remix of the top single "Flava in Ya Ear." Featuring a parade of East Coast talent — The Notorious B.I.G., Rampage, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes — it ranked as one of the first posse tracks to go overground in a big way; a Top Ten pop hit, and number one on the rap and dance charts. Mack returned in 1997 (after having severed relations with Cmobs) with Operation: Get Down, an executive production of longtime East Coast head Eric B. The album didn't even make the Top 40, and Mack struggled for a contract during the rest of the decade. After recording a few white labels, he returned to Bad Boy with an appearance on Comb's We Invented The Remix LP ("Special Delivery" featuring Ghostface Killah and Keith Murray) and announced plans for a new Bad Boy LP.
Craig Mack - Project: Funk da World (1994; Bad Boy)
The first hit album released on Sean "Puff" Combs' Bad Boy label, Craig Mack's Project: Funk da World lacks the hardcore edge of Bad Boy's next breakout artist, The Notorious B.I.G., instead gunning for the dancefloor with a slight hint of street attitude. The beats are laid-back, mid-tempo, and effortlessly funky, influenced by the vibe of Dr. Dre's G-funk sound but not slavishly derivative at all. Mack isn't the most skillful rapper who ever lived, but he's game on most of these tracks, with a low, raspy voice and a loose, casual style that's hard to resist when he's on. When he isn't, he strays a little too far off the beat, or lacks enough variety in his flow and surprises in his rhymes to hold the listener's interest. But he's good enough to work a groove, and sometimes that's all you need for a great dance record. The formula gets repetitive over the course of an entire album, especially on the tracks with too many choruses, but there are some definite high points, most notably the smash "Flava in Ya Ear," "Get Down," and "Funk Wit da Style." There's also a clever sample of the Days of Our Lives theme song on "Real Raw." In the end, Project: Funk da World isn't a bad party record at all, though it's less engaging as a self-contained listen.
Craig Mack - Operation: Get Down (Jun 24, 1997; Street Life)
Rap audiences can be a fickle lot. In 1994, Craig Mack was riding high on the success of his debut album, Project: Funk da World, and a hit single, "Flava in Ya Ear." Three years later, his Operation: Get Down follow-up would have more appropriately titled Operation: Fell Off. So what happened? Two things: First, Mack was backed by a rising Sean "Puff" Combs on his debut, a relationship that was strained by the meteoric rise of The Notorious B.I.G. — who incidentally had his debut on the ear-popping remix of "Flava in Ya Ear." Second, three years is a looong time in the pop world. If Operation: Get Down had appeared sooner, it's possible that "Drugs, Guns and Thugs" could have broken out as a single and Mack would never have had to write "Jockin' My Style" — a song attacking all the MCs who had taken on his style during the long absence.
Craig Mack - Mack Tonight Bw Hip-Hop Life (Promo CDS 2006)

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Anonymous said...

Nice post! I haven't heard from C. Mack in quite a while.

Anonymous said...

Hi really nice blog u have here, full with interessting information about the artist, i like it a lot!!! Could u please re-up the "project: funk da world"!!! Had been lookin 4 dis 4 ages & i couldn't find it.
Thanx in advance.

The man they call "walhas"

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