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"Flava in Ya Ear" rapper Craig Mack dead at 46 

Johnny Nunez/WireImageCraig Mack, the rapper who scored a huge hit in 1994 with "Flava in Ya Ear," has died, his producer confirmed to the New York Daily News.  He was 46.

The Long Island rapper, who recorded for Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records, died of heart failure in Walterboro, S.C.   The producer, Alvin Toney, told the Daily News he'd visited Mack last week to shoot a documentary about Mack, who gave up the music industry to lead a deeply religious life.

According to Toney, Mack told him that he was ill and that he didn't expect to live long.  He's survived by a wife and two adult children, said Toney.

“He was prepared for whatever comes, to go home to the Lord,” Toney added. “He was prepared to do that. He wasn’t scared. He was ready.”

Mack first met Combs at a New York City club and told him he'd sign him if he could freestyle to a Mary J. Blige song, which he did.  His hit "Flava in Ya Ear" was nominated for a Grammy; the song's remix featured LL Cool J and the Notorious B.I.G. 

According to the Daily News, Diddy said at the time that he considered Biggie and Mack to be the marquee acts on his label, but Mack left Bad Boy in 1995.  He released an album in 1997, but it wasn't a success.  He did appear in the video for Diddy's 2002 single "I Need a Girl Part 1," but turned down the chance to be part of Diddy's Bad Boy reunion.

Hip hop stars took to Twitter to mourn Mack's passing.

"Rest in power Craig," tweeted LL Cool J. "May the almighty embrace your soul & lift up your family and friends. it was a pleasure to know you & rock with you. You $tepped away from the game & did it your way.. I always respected that. #RIPCraigMack"

Toure wrote, "In Diddy’s doc Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Craig Mack is absent because he was focused on religion. They called him and tried hard to get him to come join them and I respected the way he stuck to his principles and politely refused to join his old friends for one more star turn. RIP."

"Rest in Beats," wrote Chuck D.

Joe Budden tweeted, "Rest in peace Craig Mack."

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