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Kris Kross Death: Chris Kelly Remembered by Mentor and Friend Jermaine Dupri

(AtlantaBlackStar) The music world has been stunned by the death of rapper Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, 34, one half of the duo Kris Kross who exploded on the scene in 1992 with an infectious song, “Jump,” and an accompanying dance that had party-goers across the globe jumping up and down like pogo sticks.

The cause of Kelly’s death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose (see latest update below), Fulton County police Cpl. Kay Lester told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kelly was found unresponsive in his Atlanta area home Wednesday afternoon and transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be performed Thursday morning.

With a signature style that featured Mac Daddy and his partner, Chris ”Daddy Mac,” Smith, wearing their clothes backward, Kris Kross put Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Records on the map as the first act he signed to his label.

Dupri, just 18 himself, discovered the 13-year-olds at Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall in 1990.

The duo was the opening act earlier this year at a star-filled 20-year anniversary celebration for So So Def.

Kelly’s mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, and the So So Def Family put out a statement on Kelly’s passing:

“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.”

Helped by the hugely successful single “Jump,” which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for eight weeks and was certified double platinum as a single, the duo’s first album, “Totally Krossed Out,” sold four million copies in the U.S. alone. The pair also recorded the “Rugrats Rap” for Nickelodeon.

At the height of their fame, Kris Kross toured with Michael Jackson during his “Dangerous World Tour” and appeared in his video for the song “Jam,” where the king of pop teaches basketball great Michael Jordan how to moonwalk. They also appeared in the video for TLC’s song, “Hat 2 da Back,” and sold 100,000 copies of a VHS tape of their music videos for “Jump” and follow-up single “Warm It Up.” They went on to win a Billboard award for Best New Artist in 1992.

Kris Kross also released a video game called Make My Video, that gave the players pre-made video clips to the duo’s songs to merge into a new music video. But the video was not a financial success. Kriss Kross appeared on the sitcom “A Different World,” and the comedy show, “In Living Color,” and in television commercials for Sprite.

The group’s last album, “Young, Rich & Dangerous,” was released in 1996 and reached gold status, but the pair never again ascended to the lofty heights of “Jump.”

*UPDATE*

With an autopsy pending TMZ has obtained some details from the police report that strongly suggest drug use was a leading cause of death.

“Kris Kross” rapper Chris Kelly had been using a combination of cocaine and heroin the night before his death, this according to the police report obtained by TMZ.

According to the report, paramedics initially responded to Kelly’s Atlanta home around 3 PM EST — after his mother called 911 asking for medical assistance.

When help arrived, paramedics found 34-year-old Kelly lying on the living room couch — unresponsive and with “no life signs.” The medics attempted to revive Kelly, to no avail.

Kelly was immediately transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.

After the death, cops spoke with Donna Kelly Pratt — Chris’ mother — who told police … the night before Kelly’s medical emergency, he had taken a mixture of heroin and cocaine — commonly known as “speedballs.”

Jermaine Dupri just released an open letter in honor of Kelly to his fans:

“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 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 and Chris [Smith] 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 you.”

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