UPDATE 5/2 | Jermaine Dupri releases a statement, calling Kelly “a son I never had.”
Chris Kelly: 1978 – 2013
Rapper Chris Kelly of the ’90s group Kris Kross was found dead at his Atlanta home this evening, a rep for the Fulton Country Medical Examiner confirmed to Billboard. He was 34. Officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Kelly was found unresponsive and transported to Atlanta Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
The Fulton County Police told the AJC that Kelly’s death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose. An autopsy will be performed Thursday morning.
Tributes are flowing from the music community and record industry. Upon hearing the news, fellow Atlanta artists, including OutKast’s Big Boi, posted their condolences.
R.I.P. Chris Kelly #KrissKross
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) May 2, 2013
Meanwhile, fellow rapper LL Cool J dedicated a song to the late artist.
R.I.PChris Kelly. This song is now officially dedicated to you. May GOD embrace your soul & lift up your family. m.soundcloud.com/llcoolj/14-jum…
— LL COOL J (@llcoolj) May 2, 2013
The duo of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith cemented their place in pop history with their first single, the raucous teen anthem “Jump,” which spent eight weeks atop the Hot 100 in 1992.
By the time its reign wrapped, “Jump” was, at the time, one of only 11 songs to top the Hot 100 for at least eight weeks, dating to the chart’s launch on Aug. 4, 1958. No other rap song had led the chart for so long.
It was an 18-year-old Jermaine Dupri who discovered Kelly and Smith at a local shopping mall in 1990.
“They were real fresh. People were paying attention,” Dupri said in the Billboard Book of Number One Hits. “I said, ‘If you have that captivation over people right now, if you had a record out, this might be ridiculous’.”
Two years later he produced “Totally Krossed Out,” their Ruffhouse Records debut. The album crowned the Billboard 200 for two weeks amid a 65-week chart run, and led Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for six weeks. The set has sold 4 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The album produced four singles including “Jump,” “It’s a Shame,” “I Missed the Bus” and “Warm It Up,” which reached No. 13 on the Hot 100.
They followed up with “Da Bomb” a year later, which failed to match the success of “Totally Krossed Out,” but did reach No. 2 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Their third and final studio album, “Young, Rich & Dangerous,” also peaked at No. 2 and featured guest appearances by Da Brat, Aaliyah and Dupri.