“Jump” by Kriss Kross
According to hip-hop icon Jermaine Dupri, he was inspired to write “Jump” after attending a concert and “(watching) how people were just into jumping”. According to JD, he was able to compose the classic in just an hour, meaning that it is sort of a freestyle. And upon completing it he probably realized he couldn’t record it himself, which may be why he gave it to a couple of kids instead.
And that’s because for the most part the lyrics are painfully simple. It is also one of those types of dance songs where the wording of the verses aren’t overly important anyway. They serve their primary purpose, which is to keep the listener amped until the next chorus rolls around. But there are a few notable lines contained therein.
For instance, at the beginning of the first verse, Mac Daddy sort of throws a jab at another youth hip-hop crew of the day, Another Bad Creation (aka ABC). And later on he definitely disses them by alluding to their “inside out” shtick. Also before the verse closes out he lambasts the idea of mixing rap with R&B, which was a popular stance amongst ‘hardcore’ rappers back then.
In the middle of the second verse, Daddy Mac gives a shoutout to Kriss Kross’s own shtick, which is wearing their clothes backwards. Perhaps you’re thinking, in the grand scheme of things, what’s the difference between wearing your clothes inside out or backwards? Well thankfully neither one of these fads actually caught on, though at the end of the day Kriss Kross did prove more successful than ABC.
Then in the third verse which once again belongs to Mac Daddy, who appears to be the more lyrically-gifted of the two goes, he displays his ragga, i.e. Westernized reggae, skills. And that’s just about it in terms of highlighting notable moments outside of the chorus.
Aside from that most of the lyrics of the verses are meant to get you in the jumping mood. And Big John Monds, a DJ from L.A., was right when he said that this is the type of song you “instantly love” upon hearing it. Or even if you’re one of those people who don’t think too fondly of “Jump”, you will likely still admit that the tune easily gets lodged in the brain.
And simply put it is a dance song, one in which Kriss Kross is encouraging you to do the simplest move possible, which is to jump. Yes, there may be a few more ideas being put forth in the lyrics themselves. But it’s like in the grand scheme of the track, no one particularly cares what Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac are saying anyway.
Kriss Kross and the success of “Jump”
Kriss Kross was by and large a one-hit wonder. In other words, you’d likely be hard-pressed to find anyone who could name any of their songs outside of “Jump”. Yes, they may have dropped other singles that went gold or what have you. But those were the beneficiaries of the success of the track we’re covering today. For instance, by far their most-successful single besides “Jump” was the one that came directly after it, “Warm It Up” (1992).
But the fact that Daddy Mac and Mac Daddy were able to build entire careers off basically one hit shows just how commercially viable this tune proved to be. For instance, despite it being Kriss Kross’ debut single, stateside it was amongst the top three best-selling songs of 1992.
It also reached number 1 in almost 10 counties. Amongst those lists were the Billboard Hot 100 (where it remained on top for 8 weeks) and Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs ranking. Moreover it managed to achieve double-platinum status in the US, during the same year in which it was released.
Kriss Kross were a rap duo from the ATL whom Jermaine Dupri discovered in 1991. The pair dissolved for good in 2013 when one of its members, Chris Kelly (aka Mac Daddy) passed away at the age of 34.
His partner, Chris Smith, was known as Daddy Mac. And at the time “Jump” blew as highlighted above, they were respectively 13 and 12 years of age. That made them the youngest rappers to ever achieve such a high level of success. For example, the album this track is featured on, “Totally Krossed Out”, had been certified quadruple-platinum by 1993.
Who wrote “Jump”?
It was Jermaine Dupri who wrote this classic, but a whole lotta other artists got songwriting credit also. This is largely because it samples almost a dozen other songs.
A bunch of members of the Ohio Players are acknowledged. This is likely because they collectively wrote 1973’s “Funky Worm”, which is sampled onto “Jump”. And those members are:
- Marshall “Rock” Jones (1941-2016)
- Junie Morrison (1954-2017)
- Ralph Middlebrooks
- Norman Napier
- Marvin Pierce
- Greg Webster
Then there is another 1973 track which was sampled, “Impeach the President” by The Honey Drippers. Even though you may have never heard of this song by name, it is probably one of the most-sampled tracks in history, especially as far as hip-hop is concerned. And its writer, Roy C (1939-2020), is also given some Jump credit.
Another back-in-the-day track that you may be more familiar with, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” (1969), was also used. That song was composed by a group of writers/producers known as The Corporation. And the five members of that crew are also recognized as writers of “Jump”. They are:
- Berry Gordy
- Fonce Mizell (1943-2011)
- Larry Mizell
- Deke Richards (1944-2013)
- Freddie Perren (1943-2004)
Also acknowledged as a sample is “O.P.P.” (1991) by Naughty by Nature. No member of that crew is officially recognized as composers of “Jump”. However according to some reports, lead rapper Treach actually served as a ghostwriter of this song.
There are also a few other songs tracks as samples, of which none of their creators are given credit on “Jump”. And they are:
- Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” (1969)
- James Brown’s “Escape-ism” (1971)
- “Midnight Theme” (1979) by Manzel
- “The Original Human Beat Box” (1984) by Doug E. Fresh
- Schoolly D’s “Saturday Night” (1986)
- Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance”
Then there is one other co-writer who does not appear to be associated with one of the tracks listed above. That is a producer by the name of Joe Nicolo, who also happens to be the co-founder of Ruffhouse Records, one of the labels behind this track.
And the other label responsible for making Jump public was Columbia Records.
In addition to serving as the primary writer of this song, Jermaine Dupri also produced it.