On July 26, 1994, the late, great rapper Craig Mack released his debut single, a track that - thanks to a remix that featured several different rappers on the song’s verses - helped give a major boost to a young upstart by the name of The Notorious B.I.G.
Produced by Easy Mo Bee, “Flava in Ya Ear” was - you may be surprised to learn - not actually intended as a single for Mack. In fact, it was supposed to be recorded by Apache, but when Apache ended up on tour with Naughty by Nature and couldn’t pin down when he’d next be available for a recording session, Mo Bee passed the then-instrumental track to Mack, and the rest is history.
Well, actually, the history-making event was the remix of the song, which featured not only Biggie Smalls but, indeed, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, and Rampage as well as Puff Daddy and Keisha Spivey of Total. In addition, if you check out the video, you’ll see several other familiar faces pop up, even if they aren’t in the video: Das EFX, Funkmaster Flex, Mic Geronimo and Irv Gotti all appear at various points.
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Fun fact: the track utilizes a sample of O’Donel Levy’s cover of the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” from his Breeding of the Mind album. It’s a truly funky piece of work, and while we realize that “funky” is not generally a word that leaps to mind when considering songs originally recorded by the covers, you listen to it and see if another word comes to mind...
Unsurprisingly, “Flava in Ya Ear” was a massive hit, topping the Rap Singles chart, climbing into the top 5 of the R&B/hip-hop singles chart, and even entering the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, going platinum by the time all was said and done. It even earned a Grammy nod for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Alas, we lost Craig Mack a few years ago - he passed away on March 12, 2018 from heart failure - but his debut single made the kind of impact that the rap world will never forget.