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Ah! Boy: 6 Things You Didn't Know About Craig Mack

The artist was dedicated to the rhymes, his faith and more. 

Craig Mack's untimely passing has reminded the music world of his talents. The New Jersey native was widely known for "Flava In Ya Ear," as well as its classic remix. On top of delivering the blistering lyrics and metaphors that made our heads spin, he also helped perfect the molding of hip-hop and R&B jams by working with artists like Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men and Brownstone.

Described as kind-hearted from his collaborators and friends, the 47-year-old faced several crossroads during his career. Helmed as Bad Boy Records' first solo artist, his debut album Project: Funk da World reached gold status off the success of his breakout single. While Mack and Sean Combs would resolve their issues later down the road, he was dropped from Bad Boy before the release of his shelved sophomore album,  Operation: Get Down. The album would go on to get a push from Volcano Entertainment and the now-defunct Scotti Brothers Records, home to acts like Weird Al Yankovic and Leif Garret. It didn't get the same shine, despite stellar production from Eric B. and guest verses from Keith Murray.

As hip-hop continued to be in awe of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, other rappers enjoyed the benefit of Mack's raw vibe. He went on to call them out on the '97 single, "Jockin My Style."

A few singles and guest appearances would keep Mack in the mix, including the surprise verse on G-Dep's "Special Delivery" remix with Ghostface Killah and Keith Murray in 2002. Ultimately, the rapper decided to part from the industry in favor of a higher power.

This week sure won't be the last day we hear about the artist. With new music already created before his passing, here are other things to know about Craig Mack.

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6. Craig Became A Proud Member of The Pentecostal Overcome Ministry By Accident

Led by troubled spiritual figure Ralph Gordon Stair, Mack was a member of the Walerboro, South Carolina church. The music industry got wind of Mack's spiritual journey after a video surfaced in 2012. Mack described his music career as "wickedness" while currently walking down the a "righteous path." Friends were aware of his close relationship to his faith, but many were concerned he had joined a cult.

Eric Sermon shared with Billboard that Mack was listening to the radio when he stumbled upon Stair's broadcast. "Craig wasn't in a good place," he said Tuesday (Mar. 13). "He was going through stuff and that's how he got to [South] Carolina in the first place. He happened to be riding in his car and back then, we'd play radio and he flipped the AM station by mistake and that man was talking. That's how he got to Carolina. That's a story you're going to hear from me first and not nobody else. It came from Alvin [Toney]. That's how the whole thing went down. He was going through something really, really bad."

 5. Despite Walking Away From The Industry, He Still Loved Music

In 2016, he appeared on the church's YouTube page with a freestyle about God. “Well I know to the world, the rap I kick will make you think I’m a lunatic, lost my mind or mentally sick,” he raps timidly. “But for all mankind this is it, new kingdom on the earth where the devil don’t fit / No more bad times and no more wars, New Jerusalem the city with the gold on the floors.”

He would go on to address the noise about his religion later that year on "Praise The Lord" where he denied being in a cult. "Gave away my cars, turned in all my guns/ 'cause Mack stays with beef like hamburger buns/ Sold my home, moved my family, South Carolina/ y'all can stay mad at me, if I stayed in New York, just another tragedy... What you gonna do 'When God Comes,' to me, the best song on the album, if you don't turn around, you know the outcome/ hell is a place you'll never come back from." He also goes on to question the LGBT community, genetically modified foods and technology.

4. He Used To Practice His Rhymes On The Roof

Drayz of Das EFX shared the funny story on Instagram. While touring, the two along with Skoob would enjoy Mary Jane in hotel staircases. During one stop, the rapper skipped a session to practice his rhymes.

"So me and son are smoking when Skoob was like, 'shhhh you hear that?' I was like, 'hear what?' He said ,'It sounds like somebody is on the ROOF of the hotel howling & rhyming!' We went up some steps, climbed a ladder, opened the door to the roof and guess who was out there–Craig Mack," he captioned a photo of the two. "We looked at him like, 'What the f**k are you doing?!! He was like, 'I'm practicing my bars and I'm too loud for the room.' We were like, 'Hmmm this guy is different.'

3. He Was Actually Discovered By EPMD

Mack, who initially went by MC EZ, began rapping at a young age. His actual breakout came at the tender age of 12 when he battled a then 14-year-old Eric Sermon in 1982. Complex notes Sermon recalled the moment on an episode of The Cypher. “I beat Craig Mack," he said. "I think I beat Craig because Craig... used a beatbox person for his beat. I was able to use my DJ Diamond J, who became my DJ for EPMD.”

Already close friends, Mack later became an assistant for the group. He was brought on the Hits Squad tour with Das EFX, where they would routinely battle rappers all over the country. After the tour, EPMD went their separate ways. Mack ultimately signed with Combs and the rest is history.

2. He Wasn't Interested In The Bad Boy Reunion

The Bad Boy Reunion show featured nearly every artist during the label's golden years, but Mack. Combs shared his sentiments about the matter and says he respected the rapper's decision. “I don't think anybody was disappointed [Mack didn’t show up]. We kind of respected his wishes,” he told Billboard. “In this game, man, people don't realize the music industry only has a one percent rate ratio, so sometimes it's very stressful and it brings you only to places that you can go to and should go to, which is God. We can respect that because if any of us is still here, we'd have to go to him, too. Sometimes, people can't walk back and forth in both worlds.”

Ironically, Mack's first church freestyle was released days after the Bad Boy show.

1. Eric Sermon Is Working On Craig's New Album

Mack's passing revealed a few passion projects he was working on before his death. One included a documentary on his life. Sermon tells Billboard that Mack talked to producer Alvin Toney, Funkmaster Flex, Biz Markie and Eric B, with Toney visiting Mack in South Carolina.

“So, he called me, Alvin, Funkmaster Flex talked to him, Biz Markie talked to him, Eric B talked to him. About eight of us talked to [Mack]," he said. "So, we all knew his situation. We all tried to get down there, but he was embarrassed of the situation and wouldn't let us come down there. Eventually, my boy Alvin got down there... Luckily, Craig Mack came out on time and they ended up getting the two hour interview.”

Meant as a warm up of sorts for fans, Sermon released "Come Thru" with Mack, Method Man and Mr. Cheeks earlier this year.

"I think that rapping was secondary because people didn't really know how dope Craig Mack was and all they heard was the "Ah! Boy!" and the way that his delivery was, but lyrically, he was about to be something," Sermon said. "If you noticed everybody that spoke about Craig on social media, they've said one thing: He was a beautiful person. That's the one thing I would want everybody to know about him. That boy was walking love. The real Craig Mack was really a nice person. He has his ways here and there, but the overall person, was a beautiful person."

READ: From The Vault: Revisit Craig Mack’s VIBE Magazine Features

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Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans during The 2004 Teen Choice Awards - Backstage and Audience at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States.
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10 Most Memorable Episodes Of 'The Wayans Bros.'

If you're a product of hip-hop, the '90s was a glorious time for television, with a plethora of shows being introduced to the public that helped inform and reflect the culture, from music to fashion and every aspect in between. One program that embodied the raw essence of hip-hop was The Wayans Bros., which made its debut as the first sitcom to air on the newly launched network, The WB, on January 11, 1995. Created by Marlon and Shawn Wayans, Leslie Ray, and David Steven Simon, The Wayans Bros. put the focus on the two youngest brothers in the Wayans clan, both of whom had tasted fame alongside their elder brothers when their appearances on In Living Color and in films like Mo’ Money putting them on the radar. Set in Harlem, the show revolves around the Williams brothers' ill-advised attempts at turning a quick buck, maintaining their romantic relationships, helping out their father, Pops Williams (John Witherspoon), and assisting friends and family in their own times of need.

While Lela Rochon (Lisa Saunders), Paula Jai Parker (Monique), and Jill Tasker (Lou Malino) were all main cast members at some point during the show's first two seasons, the core cast was comprised of both Wayans brothers, Witherspoon, and Anna Maria Horsford as Deirdre "Dee" Baxter, the latter of whom made her debut appearance midway through the show's second season. Recurring characters included Thelonious "T.C." Capricornio (played by Phil Lewis), White Mike (Mitch Mullany), Dupree (Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins), and Grandma Ellington (Ja'net Dubois), all of who left their own imprint and were instrumental in some of the show's most memorable moments. In addition to the core cast, The Wayans Bros. also presented additional star power in the form of cameos, with athletes (John Starks, Kenny Lofton, Hector Camacho) actors (Bernie Mac, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Elise Neal, Shari Headley, Gary Coleman, Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Monica Calhoun, Garrett Morris, Garcelle Beauvais, Richard Roundtree, etc) and musicians (Busta Rhymes, Keith Sweat, En Vogue, Missy Elliott, Paula Abdul) all appearing on the show, as well.

The Wayans Bros. show's run would be cut short after five seasons, with its final episode airing on May 20, 1999, marking the end of an era. However, the show has continued to entertain a new generation of viewers through syndication and is one of the definitive television shows from the '90s that spoke to and for the culture. In celebration of the show's 25th anniversary, VIBE looks back at ten of the most hilarious and entertaining episodes of The Wayans Bros. Show that made it one of the most beloved sitcoms of the hip-hop generation.

Season 1, Episode 1 "Goop-Hair-It-Is"

Our introduction to the zany hijinks of The Wayans Bros. came via the show's pilot episode, which found Shawn and Marlon attempting to cash in on a half-baked foray into the world of cosmetics. After accepting a proposition to become the manufacturers of a new hair product called Goop, Hair It Is, Marlon creates a homemade concoction that appears to work wonders for his follicles, prompting Shawn to create a scheme to sell it via an infomercial. Enlisting the help of Gary Coleman, the brothers and their new pitch man go live on air to wax poetic about the goop, but their presentation goes awry when Coleman's new hairdo goes ablaze, resulting in an impromptu fire drill that gives "Stop, Drop & Roll" a whole new meaning.

Season 2, Episode 4 "Two Men and a Baby"

Brotherhood may be second nature to Shawn and Marlon, but fatherhood is a whole different story, which we find out during the course of this classic from the show's second season. After discovering an abandoned baby that's supposedly Shawn or Marlon's kin outside of the front door of their apartment, the bros get into a heated rivalry over who's the biological father of the child. With little background information other than a note from the child's mother to go off of, the Williams' take matters into their own hands, stepping up to the plate to provide a nurturing environment for the newest member of the clan. The responsibility of parental duties prove to be too much for either brother to handle on their own, but they’re bailed out when the mother returns to recover the child after realizing a mix-up in her delivery process.

Season 2, Episode 5 "Loot"

The fortunes of the Williams family are on the brink of changing for the better after Shawn, Marlon, Pops and the rest of the gang discover a garbage bag filled with $100,000 in cash. A police report is filed, but the Williams' keep their fingers crossed that they'll be deemed the rightful owners of the money when the goes unclaimed. This doesn't stop the members of the family from counting their chickens before they hatch, as extravagant plans and pricey purchases are made in the ensuing days. Greed nearly causes the Williams' to turn on one another, but when an elderly woman shows up to recover her belongings, their dreams at a come-up are quickly dashed, putting the family back at square one.

Season 2, Episode 8 "Head of State"

During the second season of The Wayans Bros., Dee Baxter (Anna Maria Horsford) replaces Lou (Jill Tasker) as the Neidemeyer Building's security guard for the remainder of the series. When the President of the United States comes to Harlem during his campaign trail, Pops' Diner is designated as the location where the prez can relieve himself, which the family considers an honor. With Pops eager to reap the benefits of having the leader of the free world pass through his establishment, and Marlon determined to shake the President's hand, the visit is a pretty big deal to the family However, the Williams' world is flipped upside down when the Secret Service lock down the diner due to safety concerns, infringing on their privacy. In the end, Pops' gets an uptick in business, Marlon gets to shake the President's hand, and Dee gets to experience a bit of sexual tension in her debut appearance.

Season 3, Episode 1 "Grandma's in the Hiz-House"

When Grandma Ellington (Ja'net Dubois) stops in town, Shawn and Marlon are ecstatic to see the family matriarch, even making room for her to stay in their apartment. The decision is one that the brothers will quickly regret, as Grandma Ellington begins to infiltrate their life, from ruining their clothing to chasing away their dates. Shawn and Marlon decide to make things uncomfortable in hopes that she will leave, but the plan backfires, with Grandma Ellington’s discovery of the ruse putting a wedge between her and her grandsons. Realizing the error in their ways, the brothers attempt to win their grandmother back over and get back in her good graces.

Season 3, Episode 9 "The Return of the Temptones"

Pops gets a blast from the past when Shawn and Marlon decide to round up the members of his old group The Temptones for an epic reunion after thirty years. While the gesture is well-intended, things fall apart when the members let bad blood get into the mix, which puts The Temptones' upcoming performance in jeopardy. As Pops and the crew struggle to find common ground, Shawn and Marlon stand-in for the missing members, resulting in a hilariously horrendous rendition of The Temptones' hit, "Bang, Bang Bang." However, the original members of the group decide to put their differences to the side for the sake of the group's legacy, tearing down the stage in one of the more memorable moments in The Wayans Bros. history.

Season 4, Episode 9 "Can I Get a Witness?"

After finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marlon becomes an eyewitness to a bank robbery and identifies the criminal in a police line-up. This results in the Williams' being put in protective custody until the case is resolved, but when word gets out that the culprit's brother is on the hunt for them, it appears as if they cannot avoid meeting their eventual fate. However, the criminals' thirst for vengeance gets thwarted just in the nick of time, keeping Marlon, Shawn and Pops in the clear and out of danger.

Season 4, Episode 19 "Talk is Cheap"

Shawn and Marlon are summoned to The Jerry Springer Show to see just how close their relationship is, which leads to a few secrets between the two being revealed. When Marlon finds out that Shawn had paid his girlfriend a visit at her apartment, the two begin to bicker with one another in front of the studio audience, with Pops and Dee getting involved from the comfort of the crowd. As things get heated between the two, the bros resort to throwing blows, hurling insults and embarrassing one another. While the pair eventually come to their senses and patch things up, their dust-up and Jerry Springer's appearance made for classic television.

Season 5, Episode 7 "The Kiss"

Dee Baxter catches up with old friend Missy Elliott, who gives her a pair of tickets to her concert later that night. Deciding to take Shawn as a guest, the two enjoy one another's company to the point that they wind up kissing after a long night of drinking before passing out. Waking up half-naked and in the same bed with one another, it appears as if the two had slept together, making for a string of awkward encounters between the two. However, the potential lovebirds discover that they were victims of a prank by Marlon, which brings Shawn and Dee's friendship back to normal.

Season 5, Episode 18 "Hip Hop Pops"

Shawn and Marlon gather Pops' closest friends and throw him a surprise party to celebrate his 50th birthday. However, while the brothers' efforts were meant to put Pops in good spirits, they actually put him in a depressive and reflective state due to his age and fear of death. Looking to infuse a little fun into their father's life, Shawn and Marlon takes Pops out to the club to help make him feel young again, but the experience inspires Pops to change his wardrobe and slang in an attempt to hold onto his youth. From engaging in freestyle battles to donning iced-out chains, Pops' new style rubs Shawn and Marlon the wrong way, forcing them to cook up a plan to get him to revert back to the man they used to know.

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President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that reinstates sanctions on Iran.
Chip Somodevilla

Everything You Need To Know About Tensions Between Iran And The U.S.

Tension between the U.S. and Iran came to a head on Friday (Jan. 3) after a U.S. drone killed the head of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militia organization, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The strain between Iran and the U.S. date back to the 1953 overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and has been ongoing, which resulted in Americans being held hostage at the U.S Embassy for 444 days by Tehran protestors.

In 2013, shortly after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani took office, former President Barack Obama extended an olive branch to Iran. After 30 years of tension, Iran and the U.S. agreed to have diplomatic relations with a long-term nuclear program. However, in 2018, President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions against Iran, including countries that trade with the Western Asia country.

Over the past few months, the tension between Iran and the U.S. continued to escalate. Below is a timeline of events leading to the death of Qassem Soleimani.

BREAKING: Pentagon statement from Defense Secretary @EsperDoD on strike against #Iran’s Soleimani in #Iraq pic.twitter.com/YAuLlkid01

— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) January 3, 2020

...

Saudi Arabia Oil Attack In September 2019, an oil facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked. Houthi rebels took responsibility for the charge while threatening more onslaught if the country fails to lift its blockade on Yemen.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack, and Trump instigated the situation by saying that the U.S. was "locked and loaded” and ready to respond with possible military action.

Saudi investigators said the weapons used in the attack came from Iran, but it remains unclear on where the weapons were launched from.

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019

Iran and U.S. Spies The attacks on the Saudi oil facility came shortly after Iran arrested 17 spies, who were allegedly recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

According to several news reports, spies had been taken into custody, sentencing some to death. Trump, and Pompeo (a former CIA director), said Iran’s claims were false.

The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019

The Launch Of Airstrikes Iraqi leaders claimed that the U.S. violated Iraqi sovereignty by killing 24 people in retaliation for the death of an American contractor. The airstrikes also wounded 50 people in addition to the 24 people killed.

The U.S. said the strikes were a response to the more than 30 rockets launched against an Iraqi military base, killing one American and wounding four others.

“In response to repeated Kata'ib Hizbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host @CJTFOIR forces, U.S. forces conducted precision defensive strikes against 5 KH facilities in Iraq & Syria [to] degrade KH's ability to conduct future attacks against @coalition forces.” [email protected] pic.twitter.com/g2hmTD4Eqw

— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 29, 2019

 

 

March on U.S. Embassy The airstrike came after Pro-Iranian militia members marched on the U.S. Embassy, holding American diplomats hostage for more than 24 hours. President Trump blamed Iran for the protest. The statement also said that "General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

"At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," the statement reads.

Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019

Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more. pic.twitter.com/huFcae3ap4

— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2020

The Killing of Qassem Soleimani An American drone hit two cars carrying Qassem Suleimani and other officials backed by Iranian militias as they were leaving the Baghdad International Airport.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Soleimani's death in a statement by calling the murder "decisive defensive action." Trump tweeted a picture of the American flag, insinuating a victory for America.

pic.twitter.com/VXeKiVzpTf

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020

 

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25 Best Music Videos Of 2019

As major networks continue to phase out the practice of airing music videos, visuals for some of our favorite songs have found a platform through the internet. Just like last year, music videos this year have pushed the limits on how creative these artists can get. From the comedic relief in DaBaby’s “Pony” and “Suge” videos to the emotional weight in videos from Joyner Lucas (“Devil’s Work”) and IDK (“Digital”), there’s a little bit of something for everybody to take away from these clips.

Music videos are a gold mine for artists to team up with other creatives and bring to life the music they’ve worked so hard on. When an artist and director are able to perfectly intertwine their ideas and skills together, the end result is magical. The videos in 2018 proved that point but those in 2019 may give last year’s selection a run for its money.

VIBE takes a look at the videos released this year and compiles a list of the best and brightest visuals. These videos were selected for their vivid themes, breathtaking scenery and vibrant set-pieces which helped bring viewers into the world these artists and directors created. Take a look at the 25 best music videos of 2019.

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