Chris Kelly, one half of teenage rap duo Kris Kross, died Wednesday, his mother and record producer said in a statement. He was 34 and died of an apparent drug overdose.
Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police, told TheWrap that local police were called to Kelly's Atlanta area home with reports that he unresponsive. Emergency workers administered CPR and he was later transferred to an Atlanta area hospital. Lester said evidence turned up at Kelly's home indicated that drugs were the cause of death.
"We are investigating it as a drug overdose unless the toxicologist report says otherwise," she said.
Kelly and his partner in the duo, Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith, were known for the hit single "Jump." The anthemic rap song became nearly ubiquitous when it hit the airwaves in 1992, climbing up the charts to the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The duo stood out for their youth and for wearing identical outfits backwards. They also mirrored each other with their reversed nicknames.
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“To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trend-setting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music," Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, and record producer So So Def Recordings said in a statement. "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.”
Kelly and Smith were discovered by producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri in an Atlanta shopping mall in the early '90s. It was Dupri who helped them craft their distinctive, propulsive sound and who penned "Jump" for their debut album "Totally Krossed Out."
That record would go on to sell four million copies — a benchmark the duo never matched with either of their two subsequent albums. They would go on to have other hits such as the 1995 single "Tonite's tha Night" and landed their own Sega game,"Kris Kross: Make My Video," but continued success proved elusive.
Kris Kross broke up in after releasing their third album, "Young, Rich & Dangerous," in 1996.