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Kris Kross Portrait Shoot

Source: Al Pereira / Getty

For a brief period in the early 90s, everything was backwards. Talk about a cultural impact, genuinely curated by Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def rap duo, Kriss Kross. Born Chris Kelly and Chris Smith, the childhood friends were still very much children when they became international music stars – touring with Michael Jackson, locking in lucrative advertisement deals and dizzing fans was rapid-fire raps.

Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly was born on this day in 1978. Sadly, we lost him in 2013 at the age of 34. Though his time here was tragically cut short, his impact as one half of Kriss Kross will forever be connected with 90s music and fashion.

Check out some of the group’s most noteworthy moments below.

1. Getting A Record Deal With No Music

The duo was discovered at Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta in 1991 by then 19-year-old Jermaine Dupri. During an interview at the Grammy Museum, Dupri said he instantly saw something special in the boys. “Kriss Kross weren’t rappers. They weren’t kids walking around with demos … when I met them, I said, ‘What do y’all do?'” 

And what was Christopher Smith’s reply?

“We’re just cool.”

Dupri signed them to a deal, and changed the early 90s forever.

2. … But Their First Single Made History

Just one year after signing with Dupri, Kriss Kross released their first single, “Jump.” The record became a worldwide phenomenon, and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, becoming the first rap song to have achieved so long a run at the top. 

3. Touring with Michael Jackson And Cameos Everywhere

Also in ’92, Kriss Kross landed a spot on Michael Jackson’s European Dangerous World Tour, in addition to a cameo on Jackson’s music video single “Jam.” They were also featured in the music videos for Run-D.M.C.’s “Down with the King” and TLC’s “Hat 2 da Back.” 

 

4. … And TV Appearances

Of course, Kriss Kross’ features weren’t limited to music videos: They were featured in an episode of A Different World and as the closing act on the May 29, 1992 episode of In Living Color.

5. They Helped Make Da Brat Famous

In 1992, Da Brat won the grand prize in a local rap contest sponsored by Yo! MTV Raps. For the prize, she met the young rap duo Kris Kross. They introduced her to Dupri, who signed eventually her to So So Def.

6. Do You Remember The Kriss Kross VIDEO GAME?

Make My Video is a series of three video games by Digital Pictures in 1992 for the Sega Mega-CD and personal computers. The games featured three songs from the respective musical groups, and the player edited pre-made clips to make a new music video. The games were universally panned and were financial disasters. In each game players are given instructions of what they should include in the video, and then the song is played while the video is edited live. Players can change between video clips available by pressing the buttons on the controller, and choose from clips of videos of the group, stock footage, movie clips, and special effects.

7. The Final Show

Kris Kross’ last performance was in their hometown at the Fox Theatre for So So Def’s 20th Anniversary concert in 2013. Sadly, Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly died later that year.