It was so ironic that I was just listening to Kris Kross's "Jump" just the other day. And it wasn't like I put the song on to hear it..it just happened to be coming on the radio. I smiled as it brought back fond college memories for me as I had nearly forgotten about those two little kids. Then it was just days later that I would hear the news I never expected.
I can still recall being in my sophomore at Iowa State University when I first heard one of my frat brothers talking about some song they had heard back home in Chicago. Apparently it was burning up the stations there. The hottest new rap sensation. But at a time when hip-hop was at its apex in the early 90s, these faces weren't at all what I expected. The voices weren't at all what I expected. It was two little kids?? But thing was the music was HOT!
Producer sensation Jermaine Dupri had created a sound that was able to appeal to a wide variety of age groups. Those two kids really should have had only their age group clamoring after them. Instead, thanks to the beats and tracks that Dupri provided, even us college kids couldn't help but bob our heads to their sound. Now granted, we weren't stupid enough to fall for the fad of wearing the clothes backwars that they tried to create, but we certainly liked what we heard. Some of our generation liked it a little too much. I clearly remember them being on Soul Train and grown women were fawning over them.
Therein lied part of the problem.
Dupri always caught a bad rap for borderline exploiting young talent. He would get them at a young age when he new they would be "cute" then cut them loose once that wore off. Usually about the time they became legal. By that time, the kids had already grown up too fast. They had experienced more in their preteen and teenage years than most of us would probably experience in a lifetime. And naturally, not all kids are mature enough to handle that fast-paced life being thrown at them. Not without a proper mentor. Which Dupri was not. So you end up getting kids running into adult problems.
The word is that Kelly had problems with drugs over the past several years. Unfortunately, I'm sure that doesn't surprise any of us. We've all heard the story a dozen of times of these child stars that go down the wrong path. It seemed like Chris had gotten thru the rough patch though when he and fellow Kris Kross member Chris Smith had recently reunited for a So So Def 20th Anniversary performance. But instead of being a road to recovery, that may have done nothing but reignited his past demons. Whatever the case, it is yet another example of another artist gone far too soon.
Rest in peace, Mac Daddy.