R.I.P. Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly
Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, one half of the early-’90s kiddie-rap titans Kriss Kross, died yesterday at an Atlanta hospital, the victim of a possible overdose. He was only 34.
The producer and budding music mogul Jermaine Dupri, himself just 18 at the time, discovered a preteen Kelly and his partner Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith when they were shopping for sneakers in an Atlanta shopping mall, and he produced all of Totally Krossed Out, their massively popular 1992 debut album. Totally Krossed Out sold four million copies in the U.S., and “Jump,” its insanely catchy first single, spent eight weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. On top of that, it was a pretty great pop-rap album with hooks for days; “Jump” remains one of the most indelible pop songs of its era. On the track, Kelly used his first bars to bash kiddie-rap rivals Another Bad Creation, and he sneered expertly in the video even when he’s describing himself as “a lovable huggable type of guy.” If you were roughly the same age as the two Chrises were when it came out, they seemed like the coolest human beings imaginable. Way too many kids came off like absolute herbs attempting to copy the group’s inexplicable clothes-worn-backwards look. When my prom DJ threw “Jump” on, six years after its release, it caused an immediate dancefloor eruption.
In the wake of Totally Krossed Out, Kriss Kross opened for Michael Jackson on his Dangerous tour and made a Sprite commercial that seemed to air twice on every episode of The Simpsons. In the years afterward, they made two more albums, 1993’s Da Bomb and 1996’s Young, Rich & Dangerous. Both attempted to adjust to a post-Chronic world with limited success, though both had some jams on them. (They also went platinum and gold, respectively; they were only really disappointments in light of the supernova success they’d had early on.) The duo broke up in the late ’90s, but they reunited earlier this year when Dupri’s So So Def label threw a 20th-anniversary concert in Atlanta.