Man. Hearing the news that Chris Kelly of Kris Kross had passed away this past Wednesday of a suspected drug overdose…well, damn (I’m not going to get into a diatribe about the evils of drug use in the entertainment industry, ’cause that’s a completely different post). There just aren’t many words to convey what that loss means to obviously his family and friends, but what it also means to those of us who grew up in the early 90s. I’m talking about us 80s babies, who weren’t really vibing to The Sugar Hill Gang, but who weren’t necessarily going to be caught banging Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” in earshot of our parents’ bedrooms. No, we found purpose when we peeped that “Jump” video for the first time on BET’s Rap City. These dudes were what, all of like, 13, 14, and they were rapping???
With their clothes on BACKWARDS??? Talk about sticking it to the man (a.k.a. the adults). The next day boys and girls alike were wearing their Yankees shirts backwards, and shaving lines in their eyebrows.
My personal favorite was the “Warm it Up” song and video. Grantland’s Rembert Brown breaks down, or excuse me, explains the intricacies of this awesome video here, but my glee was intensified when I realized that one of their “crew” was Kenny/”Bud” from The Cosby Show (I love The Cosby Show, but most of you know that already). As a whole though, the album was pretty good, and us youngsters obviously felt the same way, since it managed to top the Billboard 200, two months after it dropped (Note: This is kind of a big deal, since it was consistently one of the only rap albums in the top 20 for weeks). I seriously let that tape rock ’til that taped popped.
This may be completely selfish, but every time someone whose music played a significant part in my growing up (whether good or bad), passes away, it’s almost as if a piece of my childhood has perished as well. I know I talk about the 90s a lot, but dammit, I love the music and memories it gave me. I base my life timeline not on years, but on the music that got me through that notoriously rough period of transition from childhood to adolescence. Thank you, Chris Kelly, for being one of many artists that contributed to that time. May you rest in peace.