Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, one half of the popular early 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, has died. He was found unresponsive in his home Wednesday afternoon and was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. He was 34.
Kelly and Chris Smith, his Kris Kross partner, were just 13 when they were discovered at an Atlanta mall in 1991 by Jermaine Dupri, who made the duo one of the first acts signed to his then new label, So So Def Records.
The duo became a sensation, both for their 1992 hit “Jump,” which spent eight weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, and for their trademark backward clothes. Their 1992 debut album, Totally Krossed Out, would go on to sell over four million copies in the US alone.
After two subsequent albums failed to reproduce Totally Krossed Out's success, Kris Kross split up. The duo reunited in February for So So Def's 20th Anniversary concert.
No official cause of death has been announced, though an Atlanta police spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Kelly's death is being investigated as a drug overdose. An autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday morning.
UPDATE: The Associated Press is also reporting Kelly died of an apparent drug overdose.
"It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose," said Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police.
This, Lester said, is based on statements received at the scene as well as evidence turned up at Kelly's home in south Atlanta.
UPDATE 2: Kelly's mother and So So Def issued a joint statement early Thursday morning:
“It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1. 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. 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, and we will forever love him.”
— Donna Kelly Pratte (mother) & The So So Def Family
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