*Seven years ago (05-01-13), Chris Kelly of Kris Kross was pronounced dead of a drug overdose at an Atlanta hospital. He was found unconscious two days earlier in his Atlanta home.
The 34-year-old found fame as “Mac Daddy” with his rap partner and friend since the first grade, Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith. Jermaine Dupri was 19 when he discovered the Atlanta natives at the Greenbriar Mall in 1991 and thought they had the look to become rap superstars.
Wearing their clothing backwards to stand out – and to counter their Michael Bivins-created rival Another Bad Creation (who wore their clothing inside-out) – Kris Kross was signed to Ruffhouse Records in ’92 and their debut album was released the following year with the hit debut single, “Jump.”
“Jump” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks and was certified double platinum. It was the first rap song to have ever achieved so long a run at the top.
The video for their follow-up single, “Warm It Up”, won a Billboard video award for “Best New Artist.”
Kris Kross – Warm It Up
The success of their debut album led to a multitude of other high-profile projects in ’92, including a spot on the European leg of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour.
They also appeared with Jackson and Michael Jordan in the King of Pop’s 1992 single “Jam.”
Michael Jackson – Jam
They also popped up in the beginning of TLC’s “Hat 2 da Back” video in ’92, and performed as the closing musical act on the May 29, 1992 episode of “In Living Color.”
Hat 2 Da Back – TLC
Kris Kross – Jump – Live Performance Living Color
Their following albums, “Da Bomb” in 1993 (platinum) and “Young, Rich & Dangerous” in 1996 (gold), both cracked the Top 20.
“Da Bomb’s” title track and video introduced fellow So So Def artist Da Brat in 1993.
Kris Kross – Da Bomb (1993)
Kris Kross – Alright (1993)
Kris Kross – Tonite’s tha Night (1996)
Kris Kross would perform together for the last time in their hometown at the Fox Theatre for So So Def’s 20th Anniversary concert in 2013.
Kris Kross – So So Def’s 20th Anniversary concert
Kelly’s mother told police that her son became sick after taking cocaine and heroin on the night before his death. A toxicology report would later confirm that the two drugs were indeed in his system.
Hours before his death, video was taken of Kelly high on drugs and slurring his way through a rap about a room full of dead bodies.
Chris Kelly — Tragic LAST VIDEO … Drugged Out Rap Session | TMZ
Paramedics found Kelly unresponsive on a living room couch at his Atlanta home and attempted to resuscitate him. He was rushed to the south campus of Atlanta Medical Center and pronounced dead at around 5 p.m.
The following day, Dupri referred to Kelly in a tweet as “a son that I never had” and spoke about him to Hip Hollywood.
Jermaine Dupri Talks Impact Of Kris Kross – HipHollywood.com
His lifelong friend and partner in rhyme, Chris Smith, spoke at his funeral before he was laid to rest on May 9, 2013.
RADIOSCOPE RAW Podcast: Our Uncut 1989 Interview with Chuck D of Public Enemy
*Episode 9 of the RadioScope Raw podcast features our 1989 interview with Chuck D of Public Enemy.
The rapper talks about being at the forefront of the Black pride movement in hip hop following the crossover popularity of their album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” why he things so many young white kids are obsessed with the group, and everything you never knew you wanted to know about their 1989 anthem “Fight the Power.”
Chuck D also talks at length about the controversy surrounding the firing of P.E.’s Minister of Information, Professor Griff over anti-Semitic remarks, his distrust of the media at the root of the group’s track “Don’t Believe the Hype” and his excitement over their upcoming album “Fear of a Black Planet.”
RADIOSCOPE RAW Podcast: Our Uncut 1989 Interview with Lakeside
*Episode 8 of the RadioScope Raw podcast features our 1989 interview with Lakeside.
The group was promoting what would be its final album, “Party Patrol,” and the fellas were surprisingly candid regarding their concern about its direction. After an early stint at Motown and ABC Records, the Dayton, Ohio-based band signed with their manager Dick Griffey’s label Solar Records in 1978 and were given the space to write and produce their own material. It paid off big time with such soon-to-be classics as “It’s All The Way Live,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “Raid” and “Outrageous.”
But the R&B musical landscape changed in the late 80s, focusing less on the tight musicianship of funk bands like Lakeside, and more on star producers like Teddy Riley and his signature New Jack Swing sound.
The members of Lakeside expressed doubts about this album “Party Patrol,” calling it a “company album” for the way their new label Epic Records dictated its direction toward hip hop and New Jack Swing, insisted on putting a new lead singer on its first single, “Money” and took away the band’s creative control that drove their early success. Sadly, the group members were right to show frustration, as “Party Patrol” failed to even chart following its release in 1990.
But four years later, Coolio and his reworking of “Fantastic Voyage” would remind folks that Lakeside is already in the pantheon of 70s and 80s fly costume-wearing funk bands that added color and contour to the genre.
Hey Jambo Jambo! Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’ Hit No. 1 on This Day in 1983 [EUR Video Throwback]
*Lionel Richie’s 4th solo single was his second to reach No. 1, and it happened on Nov. 12, 1983, with the help of some made up Swahili.
“I called the UN and said ‘I need something African for the breakdown in this song I’m writing,'” the former lead singer of The Commodores told the publication Q about the famous chant in his hit single “All Night Long,” from his second album Can’t Slow Down. “They informed me that there are thousands of different African dialects. I couldn’t believe it. One region doesn’t have any idea what the other is taking about. So, ‘Tambo liteh sette mo-jah!’? I made it up on the spot. Now I think that ‘Jambo’ might have a meaning in Swahili, but you gotta be careful because it might mean ‘welcome’ in one dialect and you might get your head cut off for saying it in another.”
The fabricated language was not the song’s biggest challenge. Richie told CNN that it took him about two months to write “All Night Long,” because, “I just couldn’t find the ending – I couldn’t find all night long to save my life. I had everything, the verses, the middle part, all the stuff. I just did not have all night long. It took me forever to find it. And finally one night, the heavens opened up and came through.”
Ironically, Jambo (or Hujambo) is Swahili for “Hello,” which would be the title of his next single from Can’t Slow Down to hit No. 1. Also real are the words “karamu” and “liming” in “All Night Long,” as in:
“We’re going to party, karamu, fiesta, forever,”
“We’re going to party, liming, fiesta, forever.”
“Karamu” is a Swahili word for a party accompanied by a feast, “liming” is a Caribbean term for getting together, and “fiesta,” of course, is Spanish for party. Using various words that reflect the ultimate turn-up was deliberate. Richie said he wanted to infuse the song with a festive, multicultural, Caribbean vibe. He told The Epoch Times: “I’m one of those guys that – I don’t look for something new. I look for what people do everyday. And I noticed that, anytime I would come on vacation, everybody who can rap is on vacation doing a calypso dance. Everybody who’s singing Opera, they conform to some form of calypso or some form of reggae. So when I went back to do ‘All Night Long’ it was very simple. All I had to do was find that beat that everybody dances to when they go on vacation.”
Shout out to the music video’s breakdancers Boogaloo Shrimp and Pop N Taco (seen at the top of the page). The pair, along with Shabba Doo, were also featured in Richie’s live performance of “All Night Long” to open the 1984 American Music Awards. Michael Jackson and his two dates, Brooke Shields and Emmanuel Lewis, were grooving along in the front row.
Fun Fact: Iraqis are obsessed with Lionel Richie, and with “All Night Long” in particular. It was playing as “a song of celebration” on the streets of Baghdad the night U.S. tanks rolled into the country after the city fell in 2003.
It was also vital for the morale of at least one National Guard unit that deployed to Iraq:
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