The cause of Kelly's death is currently unknown, though a spokesman for the Fulton County police told AP, "It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose." An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office.
As AP reports, police found Kelly unconscious at his home at 4:30 p.m. After being rushed to Atlanta Medical Center, he was pronounced dead at 5:00 p.m.
Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, released the following statement:
"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1. 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.
"Though he was only with us a short time, we feel blessed to have been able to share some incredible moments with him. His legacy will live on through his music, and we will forever love him."
The group was discovered as teenagers in 1991 by Jermaine Dupri, whose production and career guidance would help their 1992 debut Totally Krossed Out sell more than 4 million copies and spawn the ubiquitous hits "Jump," "Warm It Up" and "I Missed the Bus." Two subsequent albums, 1993's Da Bomb and 1996's Young, Rich and Dangerous, were released before the group broke up.
Dupri told Billboard that the inspiration behind "Jump" was concerts he was attending at the time. "I watched the crowd," said Dupri. "I watched how people were just jumping. Rappers had been doing it and I said we should make a record like this. I went home and wrote the song in an hour."
Kris Kross' style of wearing their clothes backwards became as well-known as their music, with countless kids and teenagers in the mid-1990s emulating the look.
Earlier this year, he explained the look's origin to Yahoo!. "It was kind of a collective idea," said Kelly. "We was all just sitting around thinking of something to do different. It probably could have been Jermaine that said, 'Hey let’s put our pants on backwards.' 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. We was like, “Ok, this is it.’” And it just went from there."
The group had mostly fallen out of public consciousness since their 1996 breakup, but reunited this past February for Dupri's So So Def 20th anniversary concert in Atlanta. Dupri has yet to comment on Kelly's passing.
Remember Chris Kelly with some rare intimate shots of Kris Kross from 1992, and leave your thoughts and memories in the comments below.