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Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly dies: Cause of death - drug overdose?

05/02/2013 by Corinne Heller

The cause of the death of Chris Kelly, a member of the '90s hip hop duo Kris Kross, appears to be a drug overdose, police say.

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The 34-year-old rapper, whose group was known best for the 1992 song "Jump," was found unconscious at his home in the Atlanta area on Wednesday and pronounced hours later at a hospital, Corporal Kay Lester, a spokesperson for the Fulton County Police Department, told the Reuters news wire.

"Based on the information at the scene, we are concluding that it was a drug overdose," she said on Thursday, May 2.

Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, told the police that her son had taken heroin and cocaine the night before he died, according to MTV News.

The outlet said she identified herself in a police report as his "friend" and said she brought him home to "recover from his drug use and [that he] had done this several times in the past." She told police he felt nauseous early on Wednesday and then passed out around 3 p.m., after which she called police.

An autopsy is scheduled to take place to determine the official cause of Kelly's death.

Kelly, whose nickname was "Mac Daddy," and fellow Kris Kross singer and Atlanta native Chris Smith, also known as "Daddy Mac," both grew up in the city. They had known each other since they were in the first grade, the New York Times reported, adding that Kelly was an only child. He and Smith were 13 years old when Kris Kross released the 1992 single "Jump."

The track reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 single chart and was the only major hit for the group. It sold 2 million copies and remains a staple at parties and weddings in the United States. "Jump" is contained on the duo's debut album "Totally Krossed Out," which sold 4 million copies.

The Kris Kross rappers were also known for their "Krossed Out" look, in which they wore their pants on backwards and sported braids and shaved eyebrows.

Kris Kross - "Jump" Pratte issued a statement on her son's death, 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."

Jermaine Dupri's reaction, story of Kris Kross' discovery

Kelly and Smith were discovered at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta by music producer Jermaine Dupri, who later signed Kris Kross to his So So Def Records record label. The duo recently performed at the company's 20th anniversary concert in Atlanta in February.

Dupri issued the following statement about Kelly's death on the company's website:

    "To the world Chris was Mac Daddy 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." (sic)

    "I will always love you Chris, and I will never let the world forget you, may god bless your soul."

Dupri wrote in his 2007 memoir "Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul" about how he discovered Kris Kross. He said Kelly was 11 and Smith was 10 when he saw them at the mall, where they were shopping for sneakers with Kelly's mother. He said they stood out among a crowd of fans who were trying to get autographs from a hip hop artist he was accompanying. Dupri wrote:

    "They had a way about them that was all grown-up," he added. "They were cool and slick with snarls on their small faces, like true children of hip hop. But they also had that cuteness that's commercial in America. They reminded me of me when I was their age and that was something I knew I could work with."

    "What struck me about the Chrises was the way their personalities came through. They came across as tough and knowing but also innocent. They had grown-up attitude with baby faces. I saw an opportunity and decided to make a move.

    "What do ya'll do? Are you rappers?" I asked.

    "Nah, not really," they answered. "But we can dance."

Kris Kross toured alone as well as with Michael Jackson. The New York Times said the duo brought along their parents and tutors when they traveled and attracted many female fans.

"Well, they ask for kisses," Kelly told the newspaper. "I let them kiss me on the cheek. But once you give one a kiss you got to give them all kisses and that can take a long time."

(Pictured above: Kris Kross rappers Chris Kelly and Chris Smith accept an American Music Award in Los Angeles on January 25, 1993.

Watch Kris Kross' 1992 music video "Jump" below.

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