Chris Kelly, one-half of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, died Wednesday at an Atlanta hospital after he was found unresponsive at his home of an apparent drug overdose. He was 34.
“It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose,” said Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police.
Kelly’s mother did not address the question of drug use in a statement released Thursday morning.
“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,” said Donna Kelly Pratte and The So So Def Family in a statement.
According to Lester, police were called to Kelly’s home at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was transported to the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center.
Investigator Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said Kelly was pronounced dead at the hospital at around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
No official cause of death has been determined, pending an autopsy.
Kelly, who was known as “Mac Daddy,” and his partner Chris Smith (a.k.a. “Daddy Mac”), were only 13 years old in 1991 when they were discovered by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri while performing at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. Dupri’s label, So So Def, signed the boys and sent them into the studio to record their first album.Kelly, together with Chris Smith, shot to stardom in 1992 with “Jump,” which spent eight weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Kelly and Smith were 13-year-olds when they were discovered in 1991 at an Atlanta mall by producer Jermaine Dupri.
Going by the stage name Mac Daddy (with Smith known as Daddy Mac), the pair followed up their smash “Jump” with the single “Warm It Up.” Together, the songs pushed their debut album, “Totally Krossed Out,” to multiplatinum status. Next came 1993’s “Da Bomb” but, the album failed to find the following of the duo’s debut, in large part because the boys had hit puberty and they were marketed with a tougher image.
In 1996, the duo released the album “Young, Rich and Dangerous.”
The pair reunited for one night in February for a 20th anniversary party for Dupri’s So So Def label.
Rapper Da Brat, who also performed that night, wrote about Kelly’s death, “REST IN PEACE TO MY LIL BRO CHRIS KELLY OF KRIS KROSS. Dam wasn’t we JUST at rehearsal and doin a So So Def20 show?”
His family released a statement mourning Kelly’s passing.
“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,” Kelly’s family said in a statement.