Chris Kelly, one-half of ‘90s rap group Kris Kross, has died. Kelly was found unresponsive in his Atlanta home on Wednesday evening. The Fulton County Police believe Kelly’s death may have been the result of a drug overdose, though it won’t know for sure until after performing an autopsy scheduled for Thursday morning. Kelly was 34.
Best known for their briefly trendsetting baggy, backwards clothes and for the single “Jump”—which spent eight weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1992—Kris Kross consisted of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith. The duo was discovered in an Atlanta shopping mall by a then-18-year-old Jermaine Dupri. He produced the group’s debut, Totally Krossed Out, which topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks, and sat on the charts for about 65 weeks total. To date, the record has sold 4 million copies and spawned four singles: “Jump,” “It’s A Shame,” “I Missed The Bus,” and “Warm It Up.” The duo also performed the “Rugrats Rap” for Nickelodeon, a track that was used frequently on the channel in 1994, but wasn’t released commercially until 1998.
“Jump” was remarkable for its relative success: At the time it topped the charts, it was only the eleventh song to have ever topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks, dating back to the chart’s launch in 1958. It was also the first rap song to top the charts for that long. It’s also notable that, at the time the song was recorded, Kelly and Smith were a mere 12 and 13 years old, respectively. The video for the song was also a huge hit, selling 100,000 copies on VHS.
The success of “Jump” and Totally Krossed Out vaulted Kris Kross into mainstream consciousness. In 1993, Sega released a game starring the duo, Kris Kross: Make My Video. The group also appeared in a number of other artists' videos, including TLC’s “Hat 2 Da Back” and Run-D.M.C.’s “Down With The King.” They also popped up as musical guests on In Living Color, and played themselves in an episode of A Different World and in Ted Demme’s 1993 movie Who’s The Man, starring Ed Lover and Dr. Dre.
Kris Kross's second record, Da Bomb, came out in 1993 and made slightly less of a splash, hitting No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. A third and final album, Young, Rich & Dangerous, came out in 1996 and featured cameos from Dupri, Da Brat, and Aaliyah.
Earlier this year, Kris Kross reunited for a concert in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Dupri’s label, So So Def. Reportedly the group had been mulling a comeback tour and a fourth record.
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