Don’t be surprised if you see people wearing their pants backwards Thursday. It’s not a fashion faux pas, but rather a tribute to Kris Kross member Chris Kelly, who died Wednesday at the age of 34.
The former teen rap duo was known for this unconventional style of dress.
In January, three months before Kelly died after reportedly overdosing on cocaine and heroin, the “Jump” rapper spoke to Hip Hop Media Training about one of the genre’s most popular fashion trends of the early 1990s.
Kelly, who was also known as Mac Daddy, said the idea was conceived during a meeting at So So Def Recordings in 1991. “We were all just sitting around, thinking of something to do different. Probably could have been Jermaine [Dupri, So So Def head] that said, ‘Hey, let’s put our pants on backwards,’” he said. “I was the first one to do it, and I’m still the last one to still be doing it. We went to the mall and got so much attention.”
It was Kelly who got the most recognition in January when he appeared in a photo with other So So Def family members, Dupri, his Kris Kross partner Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, Da Brat, DJ Nabs and Bone Crusher. Kelly was wearing his black jeans backwards in the 20-year reunion picture.
Kelly, whose Kris Kross song “Jump” reached No. 1 and sold 3 million copies in 1992, said he never stopped putting his pants on in the opposition direction. “I’ve worn my pants backwards since 1991, never frontwards.”
The “Miss the Bus” rapper said it never bothered him that some people didn’t understand their trademark look. “You know, people today are like, ‘Well, I can’t believe you still wear your pants backwards,’” he said. “Even if I put on a suit, I put my suit pants on backwards. It’s just a way of life for me.”
Is it uncomfortable?
“I don’t know,” Kelly said. “When I wake up that’s how my pants get put on.”
After the news of Kelly’s death broke Wednesday, many fans said they would adopt his style of dress to pay homage.
MTV said in a Twitter post, “Wearing my pants backwards to work tomorrow. R.I.P. Chris Kelly.”
Bdaht, an on air personality for 102 Jamz, posted on Twitter a photo wearing his sweat pants and shirt backwards.
In my January interview, Kelly was in good spirits. He also discussed keeping in touch with Smith, the group’s past beef with fellow teen hip hop artists Another Bad Creation, and false rumors that his spotted hair loss was the result of cancer.
R.I.P. Chris Kelly