By Laura Ferreiro
Friends and fans of Kris Kross member Chris Kelly have been sending outpourings of grief and reminiscing about the hip-hop artist who became a worldwide sensation at the age of 13 with the release of "Jump" in 1992. Kelly died Wednesday at the age of 34 at an Atlanta hospital, and authorities are investigating the cause, which they believe may have been a drug overdose.
Jermaine Dupri, the famed producer who discovered Kelly and his Kris Kross partner, Chris Smith, in an Atlanta shopping mall and later signed them to his So So Def label, expressed his grief in a letter to fans.
“To the world Chris was MacDaddy but to me, he was a son I never had, as much as you may think I taught him, he taught me, God has blessed me to be in the presence of so many naturally talented people, and Chris was one," the statement reads. "His understanding of what we set out to do, from day one was always on point. His passion for the music, his love for doing shows, his want to better than everyone else, was always turnt up. When I think about it I spent more time with Chris than damn near anybody in my whole life, so you can imagine how bad this hurts.
“I will always love you Chris, and I will never let the world forget you, may God bless your soul.”
Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, released a joint statement with So So Def, mourning Kelly's death.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1," the statement reads. "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."
Famous friends and fans have expressed their condolences on Twitter, reminiscing about memories and crediting Kris Kross with inspiring their own art.
Vanilla Ice: "Today a hip-hop soldier has fallen, I will pay respect by wearing my clothes backwards."
Ludacris: "One of my motivations as a kid to even get into the rap game. You will be missed. R.I.P. Chris Kelly"
Nicki Minaj: "So sorry to hear that. Sending love to his family. RIP Chris"
LL Cool J: "R.I.P Chris Kelly. This song is now officially dedicated to you. May GOD embrace your soul & lift up your family. http:// http://m.soundcloud.com/llcoolj/14-jump-on-it/s-4w11L "
Mario Lopez: "RIP Chris Kelly.. Kris Kross an iconic one hit wonder rap artist from my childhood in the 90's... 'Jump' is still a tight jam."
Janelle Monae: "Our hearts go out 2Chris Kelly's family & friends. We once shared the same neighborhood. He was always nice 2 me. Waved & smiled each time."
Diddy: "RIP Chris Kelly"
Keri Hilson: "Rest In Peace, Chris Kelly. Kris Kross lives forever. Thank you for the memories. #AtlantasOwn"
Marlon Wayans: "Damn RIP Chris Kelly... Make 'em 'jump jump' in heaven bro."