Chris Kelly, Half of '90s Rap Duo Kris Kross, Dead at 34

No cause of death is yet known for Kelly, who was known as Mac Daddy during his Kris Kross days in the '90s

By Oscar Wells Gabriel II and Phillip Lucas
|  Thursday, May 2, 2013  |  Updated 10:39 AM EDT
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Chris Kelly, half of the 1990s kid rap duo Kris Kross who made one of the decade's most memorable songs with the frenetic "Jump," died at an Atlanta hospital on Wednesday of an apparent drug overdose at his home, authorities said. He was 34.

"It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose," said Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police.

This, Lester said, is based on statements received at the scene as well as evidence turned up at Kelly's home in south Atlanta.

"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1," Kelly's mom Donna Kelly Pratte said in a statement. "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."

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, known as "Mac Daddy," and Chris Smith, known as "Daddy Mac," were introduced to the music world in 1992 by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri after he discovered the pair in an Atlanta mall. The duo wore their clothes backwards as a gimmick, but they won over fans with their raps.

Their first, and by far most successful song, was "Jump." The hit, off their multiplatinum 1992 debut album "Totally Krossed Out," featured the two trading versus and rapping the refrain, the song's title. The duo had surprising maturity in their rap delivery, though the song was written by Dupri. It would become a No. 1 smash in the United States and globally, and one of the most popular of that year.

Their success led to instant fame: They toured with Michael Jackson, appeared on TV shows, and even had their own video game.

The group was never able to match the tremendous success of their first song, though they had other hits like "Warm It Up," and "Tonite's tha Night."

In 2009, after photos surfaced that showed him with bald spots on his head, there were rumors that he had cancer. But in an interview posted on YouTube by Straight from the A TV, he said he suffered from alopecia, a condition in which people lose their hair.

"My health is good, I just got alopecia, I don't have cancer, not other sort of diseases," he said.

Earlier this year, the group performed together to celebrate the anniversary of Durpri's label, So So Def.

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