Aesthetically, or definitively, music today isn’t quite like what it used to be, especially in hip-hop. There are still of coursed amazing drops from the likes of present day maestros like Kendrick Lamar , or from underground artists like RDGLDGRN. But, not a day goes by without a complaint about the current state of hip-hop, whether its in Lil Yatchie or *gasp* the girl from Dr Phil (can’t even bring myself to type her name).
Tired with the latest new releases, and finding nothing noteworthy to write about, I found myself browsing YouTube. And, stumbled on a sight I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was the video for “Jump” , the debut single for the early 90’s hiphop child group Kriss Kross.
And, in case you need a re-introduction, or maybe even an introduction, here’s 5 things you may not have known about them.
1. Kriss Kross was discovered in an Atlanta mall, by then 19 year old producer Jermaine Dupree, who produced the chart topping first single “Jump.”
However, it wouldn’t be till their second single that Dupree will gain the confidence to begin appearing in their music videos, like another famous hip-hop record label head.
Jermaine Dupree has been influential in the careers of other young musicians. He helped launch a young Usher’s career. But, turned down the opportunity to sign and manage Justin Bieber, at the urging of his then intern Scooter Braun. Scooter and Usher would independently sign and manage Justin Beiber, themselves.
Jermaine Dupree was also at one time married to Janet Jackson.
2. Kriss Kross leaned heavily on creating a New York/ East Coast vibe with their early tracks. Their debut single “Jump” had them walking in snow in an urban environment, quite unlike their Southern hometown of Atlanta. And, quite like New York City.
That vibe is the consistent with their second single, “Warm It Up,”, which also comes from their debut album “Totally Krossed Out.” Ultimately, this shows how much New York dominated his-hop in the early nineties era.
It won’t be until 1995 that OutKast made it okay to be hot in hiphop and not be from New York; or LA.
3. However, Kriss Kross’s fashion style and dancing influence is unmistakably from the West coast.
So quite possibly, Jermaine Dupree was mixing the two hip-hop centers, picking the best of both worlds, in order to appeal to both bases, without alienating none.
4. The two members of Kriss Kross are both called Chris. And their stage names were indeed reversed or crossed-crossed. Chris Kelly, darker in complexion was called Mac Daddy, and Chris Smith was Daddy Mac. Which explains the lyrics in their debut single:
“The Mac Dad will make you jump jump
Daddy Mac will make you jump jump
Kris Kross will make you jump jump
5. In there early days of Kriss Kross, Kelly had a better raping flow than Smith. He had an intensity and smoothness to it, that Smith couldn’t quite match. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the second single from their debut album “Warm It Up.” Kelly spits the first verse, and set bar way too high for Chris.
But, as they grew up, Kelly’s voice lost some of that intensity, and Smith was May actually have caught up to him.
6. As they grew up, Kriss Kross changed their music styles, from more universally related themes featured in “Jump” and “Warm It Up”, to teenage-themes featured in like in “I Missed The Bus”. They even tried conscious rap featured in “It’s a Shame”.
After their first two singles, they never quite had the same traction again. But, to their credit it would have been almost impossible to surpass those two, having reach such stellar heights with them. Eventually, they came around to something both more relevant to their youthful age, and sort of more relatable, girls, as featured in “Tonight’s Tha Night,” which was actually pretty good.
7. So what eventually happened to Kriss Kross? Kelly went on to study Engineering in college, while Smith studied business. But, sad to say, Chris Smith didn’t make it, through all the way to the end. He had an untimely death in May of 201 from a drug overdose.
Growing up during some of the worst periods of drugs abuse, meant such young stars as would not be spared. He was only 34 years old.
8. Kriss Kross reunited for one last time at the Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Label Reunion concert in 2013.
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