The "homegoing" service for late Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly took place in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon (May 9). The MC was honored during a ceremony at a Baptist church in his hometown that was attended by mentor Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat and members of Xscape, as well as partner in rhyme Chris Smith, who gave a tearful, moving eulogy.
In a tribute to Kelly, 34, both Dupri and Da Brat reportedly wore their pants backwards as they entered the church in a nod to Kris Kross' iconic stage fashion during their "Jump" heyday in the 1990s. The pastor of the service described it as a "commencement ceremony" for Kelly, who he said was graduating to his eternal resting place.
Smith had trouble composing himself at first, but said peace came over him on Thursday morning when he woke up. "I know I can't fill Chris' shoes, but I'm always gonna be here," he told Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte. "We had too many memories so I'm not gonna try and go through the 30 years that we kicked it." But Smith did recall the last time the duo were on stage in February at the So So Def anniversary concert. Just seconds before they were to perform, he said, Kelly ran over to his side of the stage and said, "Stay focused. I'm like, 'what are you doing man! The curtain's about to come up!'"
He described a chill Kelly calmly walking back to his side of the stage and, his voice cracking said, "That's the Chris I always knew. He was a true friend. He wanted to see if I was alright. I just want to say I love you man. I would say Kris Kross forever, but without Chris, it ain't never gonna be the same. But I hope our legacy for hip-hop is never forgotten."
"You family has your back, don't worry about anything. Rest now. The fight is over," said DJ Nabs, who worked with them from the beginning of their careers said in another moving eulogy, reading the words in a Kross'd-out pig Latin style.
Kelly died on May 1 in an Atlanta hospital after falling ill at his home following a night out. An autopsy showed no signs of foul play or trauma and authorities are awaiting results of a toxicology test to determine the cause of death. Kelly's mother told police that her son had ingested a dangerous combination of heroin and cocaine before becoming unresponsive.
A public wake for Kelly was held on Wednesday, and according to TMZ attendees were greeted with an instrumental version of "Jump," during the open-casket visitation. The words "Cause that's what I was born to do," from the duo's hit "Warm It Up" were written on a card attached to the inside of the coffin, which was surrounded by photos of Kelly and Smith.