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Hip-hop pioneer Craig Mack passed away Monday in near his home in Walterboro, South Carolina, according to the New York Daily News. The 46-year-old “Flava In Your Ear” star died of heart failure after a long series of health problems.

Iconic for his contributions to Diddy‘s Bad Boy Records, the rapper was rumored to have been signed by the mogul after a chance meetup in a club that ended with Mack absolutely nailing an impromptu freestyle. Before the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die became a tipping point for the genre and startup record label, Mack was its anchor.

Despite appearing on Bad Boy songs in 2002, Mack largely disappeared from the limelight to pursue a quiet life of faith in South Carolina, where he was active in the Overcomer Ministry church. Friend and longtime producer Alvin Toney was working on a documentary about Mack’s influence and rejection of stardom.

Mack may have been something of a one-hit wonder, but his historic ties to rap royalty made him a familiar presence, and fans were quick to offer his family—he leaves behind a wife and two adult children—warm support.

H/T New York Daily News

Ramon Ramirez

Ramon Ramirez

Ramon Ramirez is the Upstream editor, and his work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.

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