Chris Kelly (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Rapper Chris Kelly, aka the Mac Daddy, died one year ago today. He was just 13 when he and his friend Chris Smith rose to stardom as the rap duo Kris Kross. Aspiring producer Jermaine Dupri discovered the pair rapping together at an Atlanta mall and immediately recognized their potential as hip-hop stars. Together with Dupri as producer, Kris Kross released Totally Krossed Out in 1992. The album would reach platinum certification, thanks in large part to the hit single "Jump," which proved to be a fixture on pop radio, MTV and elsewhere. Here's a clip of the duo performing the hit on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1993.
The success of Totally Krossed Out landed them a spot touring with Michael Jackson in 1992, and they returned to the studio to record 1993's Da Bomb. The album went platinum and was followed in 1996 by Young, Rich & Dangerous, which was certified gold. But that would be the last release from Kris Kross, and by 1998 the pair had parted ways to pursue solo projects.
Their impact on 1990s rap and hip-hop was profound given their brief time at the microphone and their surprising youth. Aside from encouraging a generation of American men to wear their shirts and pants backward, Kris Kross burrowed their way into the collective consciousness of popular culture with "Jump," a song that has shown remarkable longevity. Take a look at the reaction from the crowd during their reunion in 2013 at the So So Def Recordings anniversary concert.
In a 2013 interview with KTLA, Dupri claimed that if Kris Kross had come about today, in the world of YouTube, they would have been an even bigger phenomenon than they were 20 years ago. We will never know if Kris Kross would have been the next Justin Bieber or Charice Pempengco. But we do know that for years to come, Kris Kross will continue to make listeners jump, jump.
Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.