Shocking! An Interview with Kris Kross
By Jake Jarmell
In 1992, two pint-sized rappers exploded onto the American music scene. With a #1 hit song, and fans following their strange, yet suddenly trendy way of dressing, Kris Kross was one of the most popular groups on the face of this earth. But, as is the fate of many one-hit wonders, as fast as they went to the top, they plummeted to the bottom even quicker. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Chris “Daddy Mack” Smith and Chris “Mack Daddy” Kelly to discuss the discovery of Kris Kross, their popularity, and what they’ve done in the past decade or so out of the spotlight.

Jarmell: Since you’re both named Chris, how can I differentiate either of you by name?
Chris Kelly: You can call me Mack Daddy, and him as Daddy Mack.
Chris Smith: But, really, when we’re together, people just talk to us as if we’re one person, so feel free to just call us Kris Kross.
JJ: Interesting. So, Kris Kross, how did you happen to get discovered?
CK: We were just playing video games in this mall in Atlanta when, all of a sudden, this dude comes up to us, and said that he’d like for us to work with him as rap musicians. That dude turned out to be Jermaine Dupri.
CS: We had no idea who he was. In fact, I told Mack Daddy that I thought the guy was probably a child molester.
JJ: Child molesters in the music industry? Highly unlikely! So, then, Dupri recruited you without any knowledge of your rapping ability.
CS: Yeah. He basically just looked at us all funny, and asked us if we wanted to rap. We were kids, so it was like asking us either to go to school or try to become huge stars. Obviously, we picked the option of huge stars.
CK: And it just goes to show you that you don’t need to have any proven talent to become a rapper.
JJ: Sure! Just look at the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Somehow he managed a record deal. So, you got yourself into the studio, then what happened?
CK: Well, Jermaine had no songs lined up for us, so we really had nothing to work with.
CS: Then, he caught this idea that the rap world was getting all into jumping like the House of Pain song, “Jump Around” and all that other stuff. So, that’s when the whole idea of “Jump” came around.
JJ: Did you feel threatened that people would get angry that you used the title of “Jump”? “Jump” being the title of other top hits by the likes of the Pointer Sisters and Van Halen.
CK: Van who?
JJ: Good one. So, explain who came up with the idea of wearing your clothes on backwards.
CK: That was once again Jermaine’s idea. He knew that we had this level of cuteness that could work with the general public and a hot track, but we just needed something killer to make sure that we were money. And, so, the beginning of wearing clothes backwards.
JJ: And the creation of a true one-hit wonder group. Were you comfortable with being a symbol of a new style and an explosive hit song?
CS: The fame was hard to deal with, especially soon after we faded from the spotlight. People would notice us together and start yelling “Jump” or joke around about the whole backwards clothes issue.
JJ: There was another kid rap group who claimed to have first devised the idea to wear their clothes backwards, and they got into a bit of beef with you guys over this. Any comments about that?
CK: We came up with it first. It’s silly to even discuss it.
CS: Hell, I don’t even remember the group’s name. Do you?
JJ: No. I was hoping you guys did. Just shows you how popular they became. Anyway, what have you guys been up to since the popularity of “Jump”?
CK: We kept up with our school work and graduated, and together we released some more albums, but, you know, they just didn’t hit it even close to the level of our first album.
CS: Once America labels you as a one-hit wonder, it’s just too hard to go back.
JJ: It must have been strange as rap artists to go from being at the top to then doing underground stuff. It’s kind of vice versa in the hopes of all these other new rap stars today like Chingy. You like Chingy?
CK: He’s okay.
JJ: So what goals do you guys have set for now?
CS: I think we both can agree that we like just being out of the spotlight. We don’t need the flash bulbs popping in our face anymore. We just want to continue to rap either together or solo, and enjoy your lives.
JJ: That’s great, guys. Thanks again for this interview, and I have just one more thing to say to the two of you.
CK: What’s that?
JJ: Just to tell you that if anyone didn’t like this interview, that’s whickity-whickity-whickity-whack!

The cover of Kris Kross' first and only successful album: believe that!