What Happened To Craig Mack? (And Why Do So Many Ex-Bad Boy Artists Become Religious Fanatics?)
After a generally well received and meme-worthy Bad Boy reunion performance at the 2015 BET awards, the soon to be retired mogul Diddy took to Instagram to praise Lil Kim’s showmanship, and informally announce the coming of a Bad Boy Reunion tour. Earlier this year, he shared more details with DJ Khaled — the Dale Carnegie of rap — on his “We The Best Radio” segment.
“For the first time every hit record I ever did and every guest you could imagine is going to kick this tour off right,” Diddy says. “It’s a celebration. It’s a family reunion tour a.k.a the two-step tour.”
According to Puff, this is 20 years in the making, and Bad Boy recently dropped the tour dates, which starts August 25 and wraps up on October 8. The tour will include Lil Kim, Ma$e, Faith Evans, Mario Winans, 112, Total, Carl Thomas, The Lox, French Montana and there’s even a threat of a Notorious B.I.G. hologram. While some of the label’s more recent acts like Day 26, and Diddy’s mulatto boy group pet project B5 took to Instagram to lament their exclusion, there was a more conspicuous absence.
Undoubtedly, Biggie was definitely the rapper who is largely responsible for catapulting Bad Boy into hip hop notoriety. However it was Craig Mack’s platinum hit single “Flavor In Your Ear” and the star-studded and iconic remix and video that first permeated the minds of every wide eyed kid of the 90s staring at The Box. It introduced us to the skinny bottle-clinking mastermind now known as Puffy, and a then upcoming rapper Notorious BIG, who delivered arguably one of the best scene stealing features in rap history. If Biggie built the house of Bad Boy, Craig Mack is at least responsible for acquiring the land on which it was built.
So what happened to our distinctively faced, twa-toting fave? Well, he’s not banished into the Bad Boy basement like other long forgotten acts (Fuzzbubble, Dream, Cheri Dennis, Da Band, etc) or doing hard time for murder like G Dep, or recovering from a stress induced stroke after a grand larceny bid like Black Rob. No, Craig Mack took another traditional backdoor from Bad Boy: Religion. Joining the likes of Moses Michael Levi (the Orthodox Jewish gentlemen formerly known as Shyne), Amir Junaid Hawkins (formerly Loon…and also in jail on drug charges), and former Evangelical prosperity pastor Mason Betha (Ma$e who is no longer a pastor but now a more nefarious alter ego named Murda Ma$e).
Some time, after being dropped from Bad Boy around 1995 amid rumors of beefing with Biggie, and releasing an unsuccessful sophomore album in 1997, Mack folded into the arms of obscurity, and out of the public eye. He curiously resurfaced in 2012, on a shaky Youtube video.
Mack, with that trademark face and fro, is seen bopping and flailing about in exuberance, praising his new life of “righteousness” in some dank church surrounded by the White people from the farm on The Walking Dead. In one scene, controversial pastor, and church leader, Ralph Gordon Stair — otherwise known as Brother R.G. Stair “the prophet” — awkwardly stares into the camera and announces “Craig Mack is dead. We have somebody who used to be Craig Mack.” To which Mack responds by spouting his name into the microphone (Hint: it’s still Craig Mack), and then excitedly rebuking his old life of “wickedness.”
Currently, Mack is still a devout member of the Pentecostal Overcome Ministry commune, living quietly in Walerboro S.C. His family back in New Jersey, is reportedly unhappy with his being a member of what they refer to as a “cult,” and have little contact with him.
So what is it about Bad Boy that compels its artists to not only seek God, but run to extreme and at times almost acetic religious lifestyles after a life of celebrity? According to rapper and former Bad Boy signee Mark Curry in his 2009 tell-all Dancing with the Devil, How Puff Burned the Bad Boys of Hip-Hop (Editor’s Note: I totally thought this was a made up title until I googled it), it might have something to do with Diddy being Satan or at least Satan adjacent. Which honestly, is still a relatively mild accusation for a music industry exec. Or if you turn to renown YouTube occult experts I’m sure there is compelling evidence of Diddy doing the illuminati Belzebub Bop in hell, surrounded by lakes of fire and Ciroc, playing an endless loop of “Come With Me.”
The real answer however, can be way less Dan Brown-esque and salacious. It can all be a bizarre Hip Hop happenstance. According to Loon during a 2011 interview with Al Jazeera, his conversion was sparked while touring. During a stop to Dubai, he says he became captivated after hearing a call to prayer, and thus was inspired to learn more about Islam. Shyne notes that he actually began to identify as an Israelite by the age of 13 after discovering his great-grandmother was Ethiopian. By the time of his 1999 arrest for a nightclub shooting, he was already studying and praying daily. Today, he studies the Talmud, hobnobs with rabbis, and still releases rap albums. Entertainers turning to God after having lived a life of secular celebrity decadence is not at all uncommon. To date; the Lord has claimed Malice, Lady Saw, Crazy Eyed Kirk Cameron, Pebbles, and Chris Tucker’s talent among many others.
Bad Boy however, does have a distinct record. It can boast having produced devout members of all three major branches of Abrahamic religion from its former rosters. Whatever the reasons Craig Mack was inspired to follow the sectarian teachings of a creepy pentecostal prophet, they were likely formed way after his brief encounter with celebrity. Yes, it’s unfortunate and unlikely that Mack will ever waver on his religious morals like former rapper-turned-pastor-turned rapper Murda Ma$e, and brace the stage once again. I suppose it’s wrong to be the type of heathen who begrudges someone spiritual enlightenment, for the sake of nostalgic entertainment. We can still keep Lil Kim’s foundation selection lifted in prayer, and enjoy her and her illustrious Bad Boy brethren remind us of their glorious heyday. And maybe, just maybe, God will do us all a solid, and call on his child French Montana to forsake rap and embrace a life of ministry.
Lord Willin. God Bless Bad Boy.