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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(1965-01-21)
Brooklyn, New York
Died October 30, 2002 (aged 37)
Jamaica, Queens, New York
Genres East Coast Rap, Hip hop, rock n' roll, Rapcore
Occupations Disc jockey, Producer
Years active 1983–2002
Labels Jam Master Jay, Profile
Associated acts Run-D.M.C.
Chuck D

Jason William Mizell (January 21, 1965[1][2] – October 30, 2002[1][3]), also known as Jam-Master Jay, was the DJ of the influential hip hop group Run-D.M.C. He helped define the sound of the band and the style of the black hats and Adidas shoes that became synonymous with their name.[1] During the 1980s, Run-D.M.C. became the biggest hip-hop group and are credited with breaking hip-hop into mainstream music.[4][5]


Life and career

Mizell was born in Brooklyn, New York[1]. At the age of 5 he started playing trumpets and played bass, guitar, and drums in various bands prior to discovering turntables.[1][6] He moved to Hollis, Queens in 1975 with his family where he soon discovered the turntables and started DJing at the age of 13.[1][2] He caught on quickly because of his musical experience and only after a year of DJing he felt that he was good enough to play in front of people.[1][6] He first started playing at parks and later played at bars.[6] 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.[6]

Mizzell became a DJ because he "just wanted to be a part of the band".[6][7] Prior to joining Run-D.M.C. he played bass and drums in several garage bands.[2] 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.[1][7] On Run-D.M.C's album Raising Hell, Mizell played keyboards, bass, and live drums in addition to his turntable work.[1] Mizell remained in his childhood neighborhood his entire life.

In 1989, Mizell established the label Jam Master Jay Records, which scored a success in 1993 with the band Onyx.[3] 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."[8]

On consecutive Christmas holidays, Mizell survived a car accident and a gunshot wound to the leg.[6]


On October 30, 2002, at 7:30 PM[9] Mizell was shot and killed in a Merrick Boulevard recording studio in Jamaica, Queens.[3] The other person in the room, 25-year-old Urieco Rincon, was shot in the ankle and survived.[3]

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.[10]

In April 2007, federal prosecutors named Ronald "Tenad" Washington as an accomplice in the murder.[11] Washington also is a suspect in the 1995 murder of Randy "Stretch" Walker, a close associate of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.[11] 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."[11]

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.[12]

Legacy and Influence

Mizell took credit for Run-DMC's distinctive style, including its Adidas footwear and black hats saying, "How I dressed in high school is the way we dressed... My vibe is our vibe."[7]

On April 4, 2009, Run-D.M.C. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Eminem presented and Mizell's mother accepted the honor on her son's behalf.[13]

Jay's influence gave a solid foundation for hip hop to build upon and even is said to have made L.A.'s gangsta rap style possible.[14] He also has had an influence on Modern Rock including, former Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, vocalist Mike Shinoda and DJ Mr. Hahn of Linkin Park.[15] DJ Hahn stated, "This is a tragic loss for the music community. Jam Master Jay was not only a pioneer and icon of hip hop music but also a primary influence for me musically.[15] Shinoda added, "In the shadow of this tragedy, I hope our focus can be kept on remembrance of Jam Master Jay's groundbreaking achievements and contributions to hip-hop music and culture."[15]


External links



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