After a 17-year hiatus, Chris Smith and Chris Kelly reunited as Kris Kross on Feb. 23, performing their hit “Jump” during a concert in Atlanta. “They were in great spirits,” says music producer Jermaine Dupri, who discovered the young rap duo at a mall back in 1990. Kelly, 34, “wanted his career back,” according to Dupri, but he sadly succumbed to darker desires: On May 1 he was found dead in his Atlanta home after consuming cocaine and heroin.
Mourning his “brother,” Smith, 34, said in a statement: “It was a blessing to travel the world with my best friend.” Indeed, after the pair shot to fame in 1992 with their multiplatinum debut, Totally Krossed Out, and the No. 1 hit “Jump,” they toured with Michael Jackson, had their own video game and even spawned a teen fashion trend by wearing their clothes backward. “They were naturally gifted,” says Dupri. Though his life was cut short, Kelly – who owned a daycare business with his mother but long struggled with addiction – basked in his final moments onstage. Says Dupri: “He felt the love of his fans during his last show.”