All of those stories bend toward a particular, mythic arc, but none were quite as strange or opaque as the journey of Bad Boy’s forgotten first success story, rapper Craig Mack.

In recent years, Mack had become the subject of considerable rumor and innuendo within hip-hop, especially after video footage surfaced that showed him at a controversial church – it’s often described as a cult – known as Overcomer Ministry, giving testimony and even delivering new rhymes to the congregation.

After some early efforts in the late ’80s, he was tapped by a then-unknown producer, Sean Combs, to be among the first artists signed to his new venture, Bad Boy Records.

In 1994, Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear” became the label’s first single.

Mack’s low voice was full and authoritative; even years later, when he reemerged in Walterboro to repurpose his own beats in service of his new calling, the vocals were unmistakable.

Project: Funk da World was released exactly seven days after the Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die; while that might have seemed at the time like a shrewd bit of piggyback marketing by Bad Boy, Big’s album was such a thunderous arrival that it not only drowned out Mack, but many of the higher-profile albums that came in its wake.