Kris Krossed Out

Kris Kross' Chris Kelly, left, and Chris Smith reunited in February for a 20th anniversary concert for So So Def Records.

Kris Kross all grown up: Chris Kelly and Chris Smith (courtesy of Chris Mitchell/CNN)

“Don’t try to compare us to another bad little fad/I’m the Mac and I’m bad give you something that you never had/I’ll make ya Jump Jump wiggle and shake your rump/Cause I’ll be kicking the flavor that makes you wanna Jump.”

Anyone familiar with Hip Hop groups from the 1990s should immediately recognize these lyrics. And despite claiming to be more than a “bad little fad,” the fact is that this is exactly what the group Kris Kross became. The lyrics come from “Jump,” their biggest—and basically only—hit song.

Of course, they still went down in Hip Hop history since the group’s members—Chris Kelly and Chris Smith—were only teenagers at the time. They also set a brief fashion trend by wearing their clothes backwards, which is one of the reasons I still remember them.

Unfortunately, Kris Kross fans just got some very bad news since Chris Kelly was pronounced dead on Wednesday. He was 34 years old.

Although an official cause of death has not yet been released, it appears that Kelly could be the victim of a drug overdose. A female friend told investigators that Kelly used both heroin and cocaine on Tuesday evening. She had taken him home to recover from his buzz, but it was too late. Police discovered him the next morning and he was unresponsive.

He was declared dead at the hospital a short time later.

The guys back in their hey day (courtesy of Sipa Press/Rex Features)

Kelly’s music career began in earnest when he was 13 years old. He and his partner Smith were performing as Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac (respectively) at an Atlanta mall when they were discovered by music producer Jermaine Dupri. He immediately signed them to his So So Def label and their debut album Totally Krossed Outwhich included the hit single “Jump”—eventually went multi-platinum.

Unfortunately, Kris Kross’ subsequent albums—from 1993’s Da Bomb to 1996’s Young, Rich and Dangerous—were never able to sustain the popularity of their debut album and the group more-or-less faded into obscurity. They continued to make music and even reunited last February to celebrate the 20th anniversary of So So Def records, but it just wasn’t the same.

And now that Kelly is dead, no future reunions (or comebacks) will be possible, either. It’s pretty sad.

The good news is that despite struggling in his music career, Kelly still managed to impact those around him in a positive way.

“We often heard him playing classical music and the piano,” Kelly’s neighbor Leslie Tookes recounted after hearing of his passing. “He was a low-key type of person who was very talented and courteous, friendly and wonderful to our 5-year-old twins.”

And in a statement released recently, Kelly’s family highlighted the things that made him so special: “To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music. But to us, he was just Chris—the kind, generous and fun-loving life of the party.”

And though Kelly’s party may be over, the impressions he left on those around him—including his fans—will undoubtedly live on. Rest in peace, my man.

Posted on May 2, 2013, in Music, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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