By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly of the 1990s rap group Kriss Kross was found dead in his Atlanta-area home last night at the age of 34. There have been reports that police suspect suicide, but as of now the official cause of death is unknown.
Along with Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, Kelly broke out onto the hip hop and pop music scene in 1991 as a 13-year-old rapper and half of the group Kriss Kross. Known for wearing their clothing backwards, the duo experienced a brief run of intense success, mostly due to the popularity of the song “Jump” off their debut album Totally Krossed Out. The track remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for eight weeks and was certified double platinum as a single.
Though a few of Kriss Kross’s other songs achieved minor success, nothing approached the level of pop culture penetration of “Jump.” The duo broke up after 1996’s Young, Rich & Dangerous, but reunited earlier this year for So So Def’s 20th Anniversary concert.
Kriss Kross may be best characterized as a one-hit wonder, but they certainly made the most of that one hit. Below, we take a look at other hip hop artists who had one track that hit big and then never released anything else of consequence.
DJ Kool “Let Me Clear My Throat” (1996)
Recorded live at a club in Philadelphia, “Let Me Clear My Throat” has been played to kick off countless parties since its release in 1996. Though the lyrics certainly aren’t groundbreaking — they don’t even really make sense — there’s no denying that the track gets a crowd hyped. Those opening horns, from Kool and the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging,” are as iconic as anything in hip hop.
Tag Team “Whoomp! (There It Is)” (1993)
Like many others on this list, “Whoomp! (There It Is)” remains a must-play party anthem to this day. Interestingly, the chorus is a direct rip-off of a song by Miami duo (and fellow one-hit wonders) 95 South. “Whoot, There It Is” was released a month prior to “Whoomp” and is, essentially, the exact same song. Both songs charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, but audiences proved to be slightly bigger Whoomp lovers than Whoot enthusiasts. Neither group ever came close to matching the success of their twin onomatopoeic hits.
Skee-Lo “I Wish” (1996)
Los Angeles rapper Skee-Lo wished for a laundry list of things in his 1995 hit “I Wish,” including a rabbit in a hat with a bat (for some reason), but he forgot to wish for an enduring music career. “I Wish” was his only song to ever chart. The lesson here is never get greedy and piss off a genie. Stick to just three wishes, kids.
Bone Crusher “Never Scared” (2003)
AttenCHUN! This song is etched in the minds of young men around the world not just because it was a top-40 hit, but because a football-themed remix of the track played relentlessly during the menus in Madden 2004 (the one where Michael Vick is unstoppable).
Khia “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” (2001)
Perhaps the most insanely vulgar song ever to get mainstream radio play (it’s literally about licking vaginas and anuses), “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” nonetheless was a moderate hit, reaching number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. Khia was last seen posing for about a million mugshots. For her sake, let’s hope she’s finally able to find someone willing and eager to lap up her booty sweat behind bars.
Cali Swag District “Teach Me How to Dougie” (2010)
Inspired by a Lil Wayne song about a dance craze in Texas, “Teach Me How to Dougie” succeeded in teaching an awful lot of people how to do a pretty dumb dance — including some who had no business attempting such a maneuver and some who we’re really glad gave it a shot. Unfortunately for their careers, the members of Cali Swag District failed to teach the world to pay attention to them once the novelty of the dance wore off.
Sporty Thievz “No Pigeons” (1999)
You’re telling me that what is essentially a straight-up Weird Al-esque parody of TLC’s massive hit female empowerment anthem “No Scrubs” wasn’t enough to catapult Sporty Thievz to decades of success atop the charts? No! I won’t believe it.
Audio Two “Top Billin'” (1987)
Even in the days before iTunes downloads and attention spans obliterated by the Internet, here-today-gone-tomorrow success stories still happened with frightening regularity. “Top Billin” is a song that almost every hip hop fan can rap along with and thousands of songs have sampled and referenced. But few music buffs can tell you anything about the history of Audio Two, the New York duo of Kirk “Milk Dee” Robinson and DJ Nat “Gizmo” Robinson. For whatever reason, Audio Two was never able to carve out a lasting career in the industry. They still did okay, though. In 2007, Milk Dee thanked the hip hop community for all the royalties that samples of “Top Billin” have earned him over the years thanks to a verse on 50 Cent’s “I Get Money.”
MIMS “This Is Why I’m Hot” (2007)
Perhaps MIMS could return to prominence if he ever swallowed his pride and recorded “This Is Why I’m No Longer Hot,” a follow-up to his 2007 hit. MIMS was actually a somewhat respected underground rapper when he released “This Is Why I’m Hot.” That’s shot to hell now. In the song’s first verse, he says “I could sell a mil’ saying nothing on the track.” That’s pretty much what he proceeds to do, spitting tautological nonsense like “I’m hot ’cause I’m fly, you ain’t ’cause you not” over and over again. Audiences ate it up for a brief period, but then spat MIMS back out.