Kris Kross's "Live and Die for Hip Hop" (the final single from the duo's third and final album, Young, Rich & Dangerous) was played as the processional song for the several hundred mourners who poured into Atlanta's Jackson Memorial Baptist Church on Thursday to pay respect to Chris Kelly.
Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat, who are featured on the song, arrived wearing backwards clothes, a signature of Kris Kross' style. Dupri famously discovered the two at a mall in the '90s.
Kelly's mother cried out as the casket was being closed, "Please don't close it. Please don't close it on my baby."
Chris Smith, Kelly's partner in rhyme was also moved to tears as he spoke in remembrance from the pulpit. "This has been a struggle for me every day," he said. "But this morning, peace came over me because I know Chris is in heaven."
Addressing Kelly's mother, he said, "Donna, you've always been like a mother to me. I know I can't fill Chris' shoes, but I'll always be there for you."
Celebrating Kelly's life, Smith recalled their last performance together, at the So So Def 20th anniversary reunion.
"I'm on the right side, Chris on the left, and it's like seconds before, you know, we supposed to come out on time, right, but Chris runs over to my side and he say, 'stay focused.'" Nostalgic laughter broke out in the church.
"I'm like what you doing man? The curtain's about to come up.' But Chris, he didn't sweat nothing. He wasn't all anxious or nothing, he just slowly walked to his side. That's the Chris that I always knew. He was a true friend, he wanted to see if I was alright, you know what I mean? So I just want to say I love you man and I'm'a miss you dearly. I would say, 'Kris Kross forever,' but without Chris, it ain't never gonna be the same. But I hope our legacy for hip hop is never forgotten."
Chris "Mad Daddy" Kelly and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith helped to forge hip hop's commercial success with their 1992 hit "Jump." The single spent eight weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100 — the first rap song to hold such a record — and was the first single from their multi-platinum debut, Totally Krossed Out.
Kris Kross' label mates and friends Chico DeBarge and two members of the R&B group Xscape, sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott, performed. Singer Keke Wyatt delivered an impassioned version of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow."
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(Photo: AP Photo/David Goldman)