The hip-hop world mourned the death of Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly on Wednesday. Kelly, 34, one half of the Atlanta-based duo known for their smash 1992 hit “Jump,” was found unresponsive at his ATL home and died at an area hospital a short time later.
Tributes poured in after the news broke, with everyone from Nicki Minaj to LL Cool J, Big Boi, Ludacris and Kelly’s label, So So Def, expressing their condolences and wishes for the family.
At press time, no cause of death was announced, but a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police told the Associated Press that based on statements at the scene and evidence turned up in Kelly’s home, “it appears it may have been a possible drug overdose.”
One of my motivations as a kid to even get into the rap game. You will be missed. R.I.P. Chris Kelly instagram.com/p/YyzP2ZQazu/
— Ludacris (@Ludacris) May 2, 2013
In a letter to fans, So So Def boss Jermaine Dupri wrote, “To the world Chris was MacDaddy but to me, he was a son I never had, as much as you may think I taught him, he taught me, God has blessed me to be in the presence of so many naturally talented people, and Chris was one. His understanding of what we set out to do, from day one was always on point. his passion for the music, his love for doing shows, his want to better than everyone else, was always turnt up. When I think about it I spent more time with Chris than damn near anybody in my whole life, so you can imagine how bad this hurts. I will always love you Chris, and I will never let the world forget you, may God bless your soul.”
“American Idol” judge Minaj offered her thoughts, writing, “So sorry to hear that. Sending love to his family. RIP Chris.
So sorry to hear that. Sending love to his family. RIP Chris
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) May 2, 2013
The death hit the ATL family of artists particularly hard, with Keri Hilson tweeting, “Rest In Peace, Chris Kelly. Kris Kross lives forever. Thank you for the memories. #AtlantasOwn.” Other heavyweights who paid tribute included Outkast’s Big Boi and Ludacris, who wrote, “One of my motivations as a kid to even get into the rap game. You will be missed. R.I.P. Chris Kelly.”
Fellow So So Def star Da Brat, who took the stage with Kelly at the label’s 20th anniversary concert in February was clearly heartbroken. “REST IN PEACE TO MY LIL BRO CHRIS KELLY OF KRIS KROSS,” she
said. “Dam wasn’t we JUST at rehearsal and doin a So So Def20 show?”
Rest In Peace, Chris Kelly. Kris Kross lives forever. Thank you for the memories. #AtlantasOwn
— Keri Hilson (@KeriHilson) May 2, 2013
Thoughts also came in from the Roots’ ?uestlove, Naughty By Nature, Bun B, Russell Simmons, MC Hammer, Monica and LL Cool J, who wrote, “R.I.P Chris Kelly. This song is now officially dedicated to you. May GOD embrace your soul & lift up your family.” MTV News’ Sway Calloway also offered his love, tweeting, “Sending our sincere condolences to the family & friends of Chris Kelly. His legacy will live on through his music.”
Kelly’s mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, issued a statement on her son’s death through So So Def, writing, “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.”
Kelly and his partner Chris Smith hit the rap scene hard in 1992 with their infectious, rowdy debut single “Jump.” The track sampled the Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back” and was most remembered for its rambunctious music video where the then-teenagers set a fashion trend by wearing their clothes backwards. The single would eventually propel the duo’s debut LP Totally Krossed Out to multiplatinum status. They released two more albums, 1993′s Da Bomb and 1996′s Young, Rich & Dangerous before going their separate ways and pursuing solo careers.
In one of the more unexpected tributes, hard rockers the Deftones paid unique homage to Kelly on Wednesday night, when they played a thrashing version of “Jump” during a show at the Pageant in St. Louis shortly after getting word that the rapper had passed.
Check in with MTV News as more details emerge.
Share your memories of Chris Kelly in the comments below.