While history may remember the late, great Notorious B.I.G. as the ultimate Bad Boy Records superstar, it was actually Craig Mack’s 1994 debut single, “Flava in Ya Ear” that was the label’s first ever release.
Shortly after getting fired by Andre Harrell from Uptown Records, Puffy launched his Bad Boy as a joint venture with Arista Records in 1993. The label’s first two signees were Biggie, who came with Puffy from Uptown, and Craig Mack, a Bronx-born, Long Island-raised rapper with a gift for keeping it funky.
On July 26, 1994, Bad Boy released their first single, the Easy Mo Bee-produced “Flava in Ya Ear” which became an instant hit. The song peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and was pivotal in kickstarting the label’s ’90s run. A couple months later, Big would drop his breakout single “Juicy” and his subsequent album release would go on to sell 2 million copies, cementing Bad Boy’s position as one of the top rap labels in the world.
Ironically, Craig Mack initially didn’t want to rap over the Easy Mo Bee instrumental, according to an interview with Poke and Tone of the production duo Trackmasters.
Poke: Craig was like, ‘This beat is wack, I don’t know what to do on this.’ Puff is like, ‘You rap! Nigga, that’s what you do.’ And Craig is like, ‘Where’s the instruments, where’s the bass?’ We were like, ‘Nigga, you don’t feel that?’ Puff basically had to drag him in the booth kicking and screaming to get on the beat. Craig didn’t see it. But [in the end] he did it and it did what it did.Trackmasters Recall The Making of Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” | Complex