Most of the music world is still a little stunned this morning after Chris Kelly, one-half of '90s rap duo Kris Kross, was found dead at his Atlanta-area home Wednesday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 34-year-old Kelly was found unresponsive and taken to the Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Fulton County police Cpl. Kay Lester told the paper that Kelly's death was being investigated as a drug overdose.
Sparking an unlikely fashion trend by wearing their hats, jerseys and jeans backwards -- everything but their footwear -- Kris Kross gave an injection of pop energy and fun to a rap world then dominated by streetwise gangsta culture when their album Totally Krossed Out appeared in March 1992. Both Kelly, who rapped under the name "Mac Daddy," and his partner Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith, were 13 years old at the time.
Kris Kross were discovered by future urban-music mogul Jermaine Dupri, who was only 18 himself when he spotted the duo performing at a suburban Atlanta mall and signed them to be one of the first acts on his So So Def label. Dupri also wrote Kris Kross' hit single "Jump," which topped the Billboard 200 for two solid months in 1992. In February of this year, Kris Kross opened So So Def's 20th-anniversary concert at Atlanta's Fox Theater, this time wearing their clothes in the traditional way.
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Kelly's death was all over Twitter last night, and is still trending worldwide, but went unremarked on by most of the prominent Houston rappers whose Twitter feeds we searched this morning. (Several appear to have been watching the Rockets' playoff game; others haven't tweeted in a couple of days.) Still, we found a few who remembered the kid with the backwards clothes who once taught the world to "Jump."