For a legion of music fans who came of age in the early ’90s, news of Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly‘s untimely passing on Wednesday (May 1) at the age of 34 came as a shock. While details surrounding the “Jump” rapper’s death were initially scarce, the Fulton County police now believe drugs may have played a part.
“It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose,” Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police tells the AP. Lester says this is based on statement taken at the scene, as well as evidence that was recovered at Kelly’s home in south Atlanta, where he was found, unresponsive.
According to Lester, the police were called to Kelly’s house around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. He was immediately taken to the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center. Once there, Investigator Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said Kelly was pronounced dead, at around 5 p.m.
Kelly and his Kris Kross partner Chris Smith were discovered in an Atlanta mall in 1992 by music producer Jermaine Dupri. Known for wearing their clothes backwards, Kris Kross’ first hit single “Jump” catapulted the duo to instant fame: They toured with Michael Jackson and had their own video game. It was short-lived, however. They were never able to recreate the success surrounding that first song.
Earlier this year, Kris Kross performed at the 20th anniversary party for Dupri’s So So Def record label. Upon hearing news of his passing, So So Def released a joint statement with Kelly’s mother, Donna Kelly Pratte:
“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.”