Jermaine Dupri recalls how he discovered Kris Kross at Greenbriar Mall

Jermaine Dupri fast facts Despite his deep ties to Atlanta, where he was raised, Dupri was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He earned his first $1 million at 19. That came after Dupri discovered the hip hop duo, Kriss Kross, at Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall in the 1990s. Before he was 25, Dupri founded his record label, So So Def Recordings, in 1993. He's written and produced songs for the likes of Mariah Carey, Ludacris, Monica and Da Brat.

Jermaine Dupri is responsible for discovering some of the biggest musical acts of the 1990s and the mega producer recently reflected on how he came across the hip hop duo Kris Kross in Atlanta.

On Instagram Thursday, the So So Def Recordings founder shared a tweet from Only Hip Hop Facts that recalled how the then-19-year-old wound up signing them before they were old enough to drive.

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“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.

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