Tribute Sundayz – R.I.P To All The Fallen Legends – Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay

Background information

Birth name – Jason William Mizell
Also known as – Jam-Master Jay, DJ Jazzy Jase, Jam Master Funk
Born – January 21, 1965
Brooklyn, New York
Died – October 30, 2002 (aged 37)
Jamaica, Queens, New York
Genres – East Coast hip hop, Gangsta Rap, Rap Rock
Occupations – Disc jockey, Producer
Years active – 1983–2002
Labels – Jam Master Jay, Profile
Associated acts – Run–D.M.C.
Chuck D
50 Cent

Jason William Mizell (January 21, 1965 – October 30, 2002), better known by his stage name Jam Master Jay, was an American musician and rapper. He was the DJ of the influential hip hop group Run–D.M.C.

During the 1980s, Run-D.M.C. became the biggest hip-hop group and are credited with breaking hip-hop into mainstream music.[1][2] For working turntable magic on classic guitar records, he was ranked No. 10 on Spin’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[3] On October 30, 2002, while recording new music at his studio in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Mizell was shot and murdered by an unknown assassin. He was 37 years old.

Early life
Mizell was born in Brooklyn, New York.[4] At the age of 3 years he started playing trumpet and played bass, guitar, and drums in various bands prior to discovering turntables.[4][5] He moved to Hollis, Queens in 1975 with his family where he soon discovered the turntables and started DJing at the age of 13.[4][6] He caught on quickly because of his musical experience and after a year of DJing he felt that he was good enough to play in front of people.[4][5]

He first started playing at parks and later played at bars. He also began throwing small parties around the area.[5] Once he got a pair of Technics 1200s he improved rapidly since he was able to practice at night with headphones on when he was supposed to be sleeping.[5]

Mizell became a DJ because he “just wanted to be a part of the band”.[5][7] Prior to joining Run-D.M.C. he played bass and drums in several garage bands.[6] In 1982 he hooked up with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels just after they graduated from high school and agreed to DJ for them because he wanted to be part of the band.[4][7] On Run-D.M.C’s album Raising Hell, Mizell played keyboards, bass, and live drums in addition to his turntable work.[4] Mizell remained in his childhood neighborhood in Hollis, Queens his entire life.

In 1989, Mizell established the label Jam Master Jay Records, which scored a success in 1993 with the band Onyx.[8] He also connected Chuck D with Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin.[citation needed] After achieving relative prominence, Mizell was known to use the alias Jay Gambulos so as to avoid unwanted public attention.[citation needed] He is also related to the Mizell Brothers, a popular production team for Gary Bartz, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, and others.[citation needed]

In 2002, Mizell founded the ‘Scratch DJ Academy’ in Manhattan to “provide unparalleled education and access to the art form of the DJ and producer.”[9]

On consecutive Christmas holidays, Mizell survived a car accident and a gunshot wound to the leg.[5]

On October 30, 2002, at 7:30 pm[10] Mizell was shot and killed in a Merrick Boulevard recording studio in Jamaica, Queens.[8] The other person in the room, 25-year-old Urieco Rincon, was shot in the ankle and survived.[8]

In 2003, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, a convicted drug dealer and longtime friend of Murder Inc. heads Irv and Chris Gotti, was investigated for targeting Mizell because the DJ defied an industry blacklist of rapper 50 Cent that was imposed because of “Ghetto Qu’ran”, a song 50 Cent wrote about McGriff’s drug history.[11]

In April 2007, federal prosecutors named Ronald “Tenad” Washington as an accomplice in the murder.[12] Washington also is a suspect in the 1995 murder of Randy “Stretch” Walker, a former close associate of the late legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.[12] According to court papers filed by the prosecution, Washington “pointed his gun at those present in the studio, ordered them to get on the ground and provided cover for his associate to shoot and kill Jason Mizell.”[12] However, he was never convicted and no new suspects have been named.[13]

Following his death, several artists expressed their grief for the loss in the hip-hop community and remembered him for his influence on music and the genre.[14]

Mizell was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Jam Master Jay’s Legacy a& Death, 10 Years Later

October 29 2012, 4:10 PM ET
by Brandon Soderberg

Not enough hip-hop stories end well. About the
best we get is that some legendary MC fades
away gracefully and grows up and out of the
industry, to live comfortably. Jay-Z is the
anomaly. For awhile there, it seemed as if Run-
DMC were going to age, with relative grace,
which would have been, in its own way, a
minor victory. They made some great albums,
then some not-so-great ones, and from time-to-
time, they toured. And then, on October 30,
2002, Jam Master Jay was shot in the head in
his Queens recording studio. Ten years later,
the murder remains unsolved.
Damn That DJ Made Our Days: Look back at
Jam Master Jay’s life in photos.
At the time of his death, the police, frustrated
by a lack of witnesses willing to come forward,
floated a narrative that a 1994 cocaine deal Jay
was allegedly involved in, may have led to his
death — an old friend turned enemy settling a
score. This was swiftly rejected by those close
to Jay and it seemed like a telling example of
how crimes against people of color are often
explained away: “Must have been drugs or
something.” Not to mention, placing most of
the blame on witnesses refusing to cooperate
seems insincere, at best. Investigators expect
push back from a community, so they receive
push back from that community.
Poor police hypothesizing or not, Jam Master
Jay’s biography does contain scattered events
here and there that suggest he was not as
squeaky-clean as fans and friends might want
to believe. A tall tale-like detail from his life finds
him suffering minor tragedies two Christmas
days in a row: a car accident one year, the
victim of a gunshot the next. Though there
isn’t much reliable information on the Internet
— perhaps due to the worldwide web’s lack of
sophistication back in 2002 — a few websites
( here and here) refer to a story about an
alleged cocaine deal in Milwaukee that left Jay
ripped off and owing someone a large sum of
money. The week before his death, Jay was in
Milwaukee, as reported by a friend to MTV
News. An MTV News timeline of the events
leading up to his fatal shooting note that not
long before the attackers arrived, Jay placed a
gun on the table in his studio as he played
Madden 2002, disturbing the others in the
It’s easy to take Jam Master Jay for granted. In
the 1990s, hip-hop shifted the focus of both
lyrics and DJing towards virtuosity and
perfection — a shift that the genre, originally
birthed out of the same fuck-it-just-do-it spirit
as punk, has not entirely shaken, though it
certainly should have by now. Not that Jay was
any less on-point than say, DJ Premier or Pete
Rock, just that his style was wilder, more
coarse. He controlled recorded chaos like any
good DJ, cutting bits of sound into other bits of
sound, but he thoroughly embraced the
turntable’s noisemaking capabilities. There
aren’t grooves, or even really loops, on Run-
DMC records. You rarely nod your head
contemplatively to one of their songs. Jay
played his turntable like a guitar, pulling
sounds out of it and pushing its function to the
limit, while still remaining in the pop realm.
“Walk This Way,” the mythic “rap-rock”
collaboration with Aerosmith is, if you stretch
your genre definitions enough, really just two
rock groups (or two rap groups) teaming up to
make some catchy noise.
“Beats to the Rhyme,” from 1988’s Tougher
Than Leather, is Jam Master Jay’s masterwork.
There are rhymes on it, but hell if I can
remember them. It is, more importantly, a
slavishly sewn-together medley of samples, all
running around the energetic, submarine radar
ping of Bob James’ “Nautilus,” made so strange
by Jay’s cutting that you’d think the sounds
came from some Maryanne Amacher or
Stockhausen composition. Meanwhile, samples
of Kurtis Blow and Public Enemy (along with
Run-DMC themselves) talk to old James Brown
records. Jay was rewriting the black music
syllabus with this one, putting James Brown’s
voice in conversation with his group and their
hip-hop peers and placing them all in the same
Jay-Z and Kanye West would attempt the same
thing on Watch the Throne, injecting James
Brown samples (plus Otis Redding) into their
baroque raps, implicitly telling listeners that
they were the logical extension of the soul and
funk tradition: Wildly popular, ambitious, black,
and proud. Watch The Throne took 46 minutes
to do what that cut from Tougher Than Leather
did in less than three minutes. The song speaks
through Jam Master Jay’s forward-thinking
sample assemblage. If that’s all a little too
heady, don’t forget the sample of shock
comedian Sam Kinison screaming, “Dick in your
mouth all day!” It’s an explicit moment that
made clear Run-DMC’s raw aggression. It also
foreshadowed a desperate quality to their later
work, as their style of hip-hop swiftly became
uncool. After Tougher Than Leather, Run-DMC
kept going, and Jam Master Jay had his hands
in the success of Onyx and 50 Cent. But
mostly, the group quickly moved on to a legacy
The limited evidence about Jay’s shooters is
likely due to lack of cooperation with the police,
and partially due to aggressive and clueless
police work. But it’s certainly no surprise that
witnesses to the crime stopped short of
identifying the shooter. Moreover, Jay’s death
seems inextricably tied up with the
phenomenom known as “Stop Snitching.”
Refusing to rat on somebody wasn’t anything
new, but the street code permeated popular
culture in the early 2000s. In my hometown of
Baltimore — perhaps ground zero for the so-
called “movement” — mall kiosks sold “Stop
Snitching” t-shirts. A friend who attended the
University of Maryland recounted a Business
Ethics course in which numerous students
cited “Stop Snitching” as a reason they
wouldn’t report, say, embezzling.
The evolution of “Stop Snitching” became one
more way for criminals to further take control of
their neighborhoods. A motto that once
sounded reasonable — “Don’t rat on your
friends if you did some dirt” — lost its nuance
and became, out of fear and a perceived
dedication to some street code, a refusal to
cooperate, at all, about anything. The path
towards solving the murder of Jam Master Jay,
a rap legend working in his studio, was
undoubtedly impeded by the more noxious
strain of “Stop Snitching.”
So, Jam Master Jay, maybe a victim of random
violence, perhaps tangentially involved in illegal
activity, is dead. And in death, he is the victim
of cynical police work, of family, friends, fans, a
music industry not willing to accept that he
was less than perfect, and of “Stop Snitching.”
Many of us have become less interested in
“justice” because most of us know the system
itself is unjust. But there’s also some sense that
if the investigation was wrapped up, it would
show there was at least some concern for the
tragedy of a rap legend shot execution-style.
That would be the reward — not revenge, or
knowing that someone was going to rot in jail
or get the death penalty. For now, Jam Master
Jay’s final act, like far too many in hip-hop,
remains unresolved. We rap fans are just used
to it at this point.

Red Everything Movement


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