Hip-hop fans and artists are now submitting their condolences for the death of a former child rap star. As is the tragic wont of all-too-fleeting celebrité, Chris Kelly of Kriss Kross could only truly re-up the fame that arose from the 1992 hit song “Jump” with his premature death at age 34 from a presumed drug overdose.
Neither the Kriss Kross album that followed the tweener’s debut, nor the tour with Michael Jackson, nor even the Kris Kross video game could add time to the 15 minutes.
Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and his rhyming partner Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, as their names and schtick would imply, were intertwined in the eyes of the American public, both as musical entities and representations of the American dream. The duo were discovered by Jermain Dupri in a mall, and less than a year later, went double platinum. Musically, the good fortune of their one-hit-wonder “Jump” is better than the apples-to-apples hits of other artists.
Even without the death of Kelly, the legacy of Kris Kross remains a relatively strong one. The Backwards suits, the early new-school machine-gun flow, and the boyish confidence all set the foreground in the national memory of the duo, and paved the way for other child rap stars like Lil Bow, Lil Romeo, and Lil Wayne. Behind that is the beat, the boom-bap and the wine of the synthesizer that is perhaps most definitive of early nineties west-coast hip-hop. In hindsight, this synthesized drone is funereal in its purity. Rest In Peace.