Chris Kelly, Half of 1990s Kris Kross Rap Duo, Dies at 34

Chris Kelly, one-half of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, died Wednesday of an apparent drug overdose.

Chris Kelly,left,half of the 1990s kid rap duo Kris Kross who made one of the decade’s most memorable songs with the frenetic “Jump,” has died, and authorities say they are investigating his death. Photo: KD 7/Flickr

Rapper Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly died Wednesday at an Atlanta hospital after he was found unresponsive at his home. He was 34.

Kelly was part of the 1990s duo Kris Kross, known for their backward clothes and hit song “Jump” from the group’s 1992 debut album.

“It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose,” said Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police. Lester said that was based on statements received at the scene as well as evidence turned up at Kelly’s home in south Atlanta.

After police were called to Kelly’s home at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the rapper was then transported to the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center.

Kelly was pronounced dead at the hispital at around 5 p.m., according to investigator Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office.

Dumonder Dawson, an investigator for the medical examiner’s office, declined to discuss the cause of the rapper’s death.

At the age of 13 back in 1991, Kelly and his partner Chris Smith (a.k.a. “Daddy Mac”) were discovered by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri, when they were performing at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. Dupri’s label, So So Def, signed the boys and sent them into the studio to record their first album.

Kris Kross rocketed to stardom a year later with the release of the single “Jump.” The song spent eight weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, became an aerobics anthem and helped their debut album “Totally Krossed Out” go multiplatinum, CNN reports.

Unfortunately, the group was never able to match the tremendous success of their first song, though they had other hits like “Warm It Up,” and “Tonite’s tha Night.”

Soon Kris Kross was touring with pop star Michael Jackson and appearing as guests on numerous TV programs. They recorded the “Rugrats Rap” for Nickelodeon and were listed at number 90 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Kid Stars.”

They had performed in February to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the So So Def label that signed them.

The duo was known for wearing their clothes backward during performances and for a time many youths copied the trend.

This time, neither Chris had their clothes on backward. The duo opened the show, which featured numerous other entertainers.

According to BBC News, a joint statement released on Wednesday by So So Def and Kelly’s mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, called him “kind, generous and fun-loving”.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1,” the statement read.

“To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trend-setting, backward 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.

“Though he was only with us a short time, we feel blessed to have been able to share some incredible moments with him. His legacy will live on through his music.”

Michael Skolnik, editor in chief of the hip hop site Global Grind said : “I’m wearing my clothes to work backwards tomorrow,” –  when he learned of the death.

In 2009, after photos surfaced that showed Kelly with bald spots on his head, there were rumors that he had cancer. But in an interview posted on YouTube by Straight from the A TV, he said he suffered from alopecia, a condition in which people lose their hair.

“My health is good, I just got alopecia, I don’t have cancer, not other sort of diseases,” he said.

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