“Jermaine Dupri discovered Kriss Kross at an Atlanta mall. They weren’t artists, but he signed them anyway because they looked like stars,” read the tweet.
Dupri added on Instagram the he felt “driven by a spirit of adventure and a criminal level of optimism.”
In 2018, he explained himself further during a sit-down with Grammy Museum executive director Scott Goldman, who asked what he saw in the duo that fateful day in Greenbriar Mall in 1991.
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“Something that I still haven’t seen today,” Dupri answered, adding that the two were “ghetto stars.”
“It was girls at the cookie company giving them free cookies,” he said. “They were like the word swag before it was even being used. Their mentality was... I don’t know what they was on. Just to be that young, I never saw nobody that was that focused on being cool.”
Donna Kelly Pratte, Chris Kelly's mother, said in Dupri's WEtv documentary, "Power, Influence & Hip Hop: The Remarkable Rise of So So Def," that the emerging mogul handed her his business card.
“He said, ‘Yeah, my name is Jermaine Dupri’ and I’m looking for an act.’ He came out and followed us and he gave me a card and he said, ‘I want your number.’ And I’m like, ‘Who is this little kid?’” she said.
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Chris and Chris didn’t know how to rap, so Dupri molded them and taught them about the culture of hip hop. Soon, he came up with the beat for their debut single, “Jump,” by sampling The Jackson 5.
“I kept trying to use these Michael Jackson samples because I felt like these kids was young and I needed that sound,” he said. “When I started messing with the Jackson 5 sample, I took the bass line and I just repeated, boom, boom, boom … and then I took a piece of this funky worm, I put that on top of it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Kris Kross’ single went on to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1992 and spent 21 weeks on the chart.