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Jason William Mizell (January 21, 1965 – October 30, 2002), better known by his stage name Jam Master Jay, was an American musician and DJ. He was the DJ of the influential hip hop group Run-D.M.C. During the 1980s, Run-D.M.C. became one of the biggest hip hop groups and are credited with breaking hip hop into mainstream music.[1][2]

Jason William
Jam Master Jay.jpg
Jam Master Jay
Background information
Birth nameJason William Mizell
Also known asJam-Master Jay, DJ Jazzy Jase, Jam Master Funk, DJam Master Jay
Born(1965-01-21)January 21, 1965
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedOctober 30, 2002(2002-10-30) (aged 37)
Jamaica, Queens, New York, U.S.
GenresHip hop, golden age hip hop, rap rock
Occupation(s)Disc jockey, producer
InstrumentsVocals, turntables, bass guitar, drums, keyboards
Years active1982–2002
LabelsJam Master Jay, Profile
Associated actsRun–D.M.C.
Chuck D
50 Cent
Black Child

For his skill re-working riffs from 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 the Jamaica district of Queens, New York City, Mizell was shot and killed by an unknown assailant.


Early lifeEdit

Jason Mizell was born in Brooklyn, New York City,[4] the son of Jesse Mizell and Connie Thompson Mizell[5] (later Connie Mizell-Perry)[6] whose other children are Marvin L. Thompson and Bonita Jones.[5]

At age 3, Jason began playing trumpet. He learned to play bass, guitar, and drums. He performed at his church and in various bands prior to discovering turntablism.[5] After he and his family moved to Hollis, Queens, New York City in 1975, he discovered the turntables and started DJing at the age of 13.[4][5] For a time, he lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where turntablism pioneer DJ Def Lou Hauck [4][7] taught him to crossfade.[4][7] 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][7] Originally calling himself Jazzy Jase, he attended high school at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens.[5]


He first started playing at parks and later played at bars. He also began throwing small parties around the area.[7] 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.[7]

Mizell became a DJ because he "just wanted to be a part of the band".[7][8] Prior to joining Run-D.M.C., he played bass and drums in several garage bands. In 1982, he joined 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][8] 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 Jam Master Jay Records. The label is most known for signing 50 Cent and Onyx. Jam Master Jay Records folded after Jason Mizell was murdered on October 30, 2002. The crime has yet to be solved.[9]

Mizell's legacy includes the Scratch DJ Academy in Manhattan. Founded in 2002, the year of his death, the academy was created to "provide unparalleled education and access to the art form of the DJ and producer."[10]

Personal lifeEdit

Jam Master Jay was related to the Mizell Brothers, a popular production team for Gary Bartz, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, and others.[11]

On consecutive Christmas holidays, Mizell survived a car accident and a gunshot wound to the leg, respectively.[7]

Jam Master Jay was the father of three sons: Jason Mizell Jr. (who performs as DJ Jam Master J'Son), Jesse Mizell, and T.J. Mizell (also a DJ).[5][12][13] and a daughter, Tyra Myricks (born August 1992).[14]


Tribute mural of Jam Master Jay at 5 Pointz, New York City

On Wednesday, October 30, 2002, at 7:30 pm,[15] an unknown person fatally shot Mizell in a Merrick Boulevard recording studio in Jamaica, Queens. The other person in the room, 25-year-old Urieco Rincon, was shot in the ankle but survived.[9] 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.[16] Mizell was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York.[17]

In 2003, Kenneth McGriff, a convicted drug dealer and longtime friend of Murder Inc. founders Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo and his older brother Christopher, 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.[18]

In April 2007, federal prosecutors named Ronald Washington as an accomplice in the murder.[19] Washington also is a suspect in the 1995 murder of Randy "Stretch" Walker, a former close associate of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, who was also murdered.[19] 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."[19] However, he was never convicted, no new suspects have been named, and Mizell's murder remains unsolved.[20]

In 2018, Netflix released a documentary analyzing the circumstances of his murder.[21] ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?, the third episode of Netflix's ReMastered music documentary series, interviews several of Mizell's friends, family members and acquaintances who share stories they've heard regarding suspects in his murder.[22] The documentary does not come to a conclusion regarding who the murderer(s) are.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The 50 albums that changed music", No. 40: Run D.M.C.: Run D.M.C. (1984), The Observer, July 16, 2006.
  2. ^ The Immortals – The Greatest Artists of All Time: 48) Run–DMC. Rolling Stone. Published April 15, 2004.
  3. ^ "SPIN's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time - SPIN". May 3, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Jam Master Jay". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Allen, Harry (November 5, 2002). "Jam Master Jay, 1965–2002". Village Voice. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jam Master Jay - Official Foundation". Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, Inc. 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with DJ Times, 2000". Archived from the original on February 25, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ a b "CNN - Breaking News, Latest News and Videos". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  10. ^ "Scratch DJ Academy". Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ Rollins, Riz. "Roots and Branches". Encore Media Group. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  12. ^ Cushman, Camille (July 15, 2015). "Getting to Know TJ Mizell, A$AP Ferg's Tour DJ and Son of Jam Master Jay". Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  13. ^ Lyle, Ashley (October 12, 2016). "Jam Master Jay's Son TJ Mizell Talks 'Growing Up Hip Hop' Season 2 & Being A$AP Ferg's DJ". Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  14. ^ "Tyra Myricks". Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, Inc. 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  15. ^ " - Run-DMC DJ slain in recording studio - Nov. 1, 2002". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "CNN - Breaking News, Latest News and Videos". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "Celebrities & Notables – Ferncliff". Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  18. ^ "Feds Lay Out Alleged 50 Cent Plot". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Suspect named in '02 slaying of Jam Master Jay". April 17, 2007. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Top 5 Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders". October 24, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Reed, Ryan; Reed, Ryan (November 28, 2018). "Netflix's 'Remastered': Watch Trailer for 'Who Killed Jam Master Jay?'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  22. ^ "'ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?' on Netflix Examines Murder Of Renowned Run-D.M.C. DJ". Decider. December 14, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  23. ^ "'ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?' dives a little too deep into conspiracy". The Daily Dot. December 8, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.

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