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-DMC. During the 1980s, Run-DMC became one of the biggest hip hop groups and are credited with breaking hip hop into mainstream music.[1][2]

Jam Master Jay
Jam Master Jay in 1985
Jam Master Jay in 1985
Background information
Birth nameJason William Mizell
Also known as
  • DJ Jazzy Jase
  • Jam Master Funk
Born(1965-01-21)January 21, 1965
New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 30, 2002(2002-10-30) (aged 37)
New York City, U.S.
Cause of deathMurder (gunshot wound)
GenresHip hop, golden age hip hop, rap rock
Occupation(s)Disc jockey, producer
Instrument(s)Vocals, turntables
Years active1983–2002

Early life edit

Jason Mizell was born in Brooklyn, New York City,[3] the son of Jesse Mizell and Connie Thompson Mizell[4] (later Connie Mizell-Perry)[5] whose other children are Marvin L. Thompson and Bonita Jones.[4]

At age three, 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.[4] After he and his family moved to Hollis, Queens, New York City, in 1975 at the age of 10, he discovered the turntables and started DJing at the age of 13.[3][4] He was high school friends with Wendell "DJ Hurricane" Fite, known for his 13-year collaboration with The Beastie Boys.[6]

As a teenager, Mizell was involved with a group that committed residential burglaries.[6] An encounter with an armed security guard frightened him into stopping the burglaries, and as an adult he was known for discouraging criminal activities among his friends and family.[6]

For a time, he lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where turntablism pioneer DJ Def Lou Hauck [3][7] taught him to crossfade.[3][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.[3][7] Originally calling himself Jazzy Jase, he attended high school at Andrew Jackson High School in New York City's Queens.[4]

Career edit

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.[3][8] On Run-D.M.C's album Raising Hell, Mizell played keyboards, bass, and live drums in addition to his turntable work.[3] 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.

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."[9]

Personal life edit

Jam Master Jay was related to the Mizell Brothers, a popular production team for Gary Bartz, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, and others.[10]

On consecutive Christmas holidays, Mizell survived a car accident and a gunshot wound to the leg, respectively.[7] The car accident occurred in the early morning hours of December 26, 1987, in the West Village of Manhattan.[11]

Jam Master Jay was the father of three sons: Jason Mizell Jr. (who performs as DJ Jam Master J'Son), Jesse Mizell, and TJ Mizell (also a DJ),[4][12][13] and a daughter, Tyra Myricks (born August 1992).[14]

Murder edit

Murder of Jam Master Jay
LocationNew York City, U.S.
Coordinates40°42'24.9"N 73°47'42.5"W
DateOctober 30, 2002; 21 years ago (2002-10-30)
7:30 p.m. (EST)
TargetJason William Mizell, a.k.a. Jam Master Jay
Attack type
Murder by shooting
Deaths1 (Jason William Mizell, a.k.a. Jam Master Jay)
Injured1 (Urieco Rincon)
MotiveAllegedly a drug dispute
TrialScheduled for November 2023[15]
  • Karl Jordan Jr.
  • Ronald Washington
  • Jay Bryant

On Wednesday, October 30, 2002, at 7:30 pm,[17] Mizell was fatally shot in New York City in his recording studio on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. Another person in the room, 25-year-old Urieco Rincon, was shot in the ankle and survived.[18] Following Mizell's 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.[19] Mizell was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York.[20]

In 2003, Kenneth McGriff, a convicted drug dealer and longtime friend of Murder Inc. Records founders Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo and his older brother Christopher, were 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.[21]

In December 2003, Playboy magazine published an article by investigative journalist Frank Owen, "The Last Days of Jam Master Jay", which traced the murder to a drug deal gone bad.[6] Owen said he uncovered evidence Mizell, not normally involved in crime as an adult, had turned to cocaine distribution to pay mounting bills. Mizell owed substantial debts to the Internal Revenue Service, among others, after his music career stalled in the late 1990s. According to Owen, several sources indicated Mizell traveled to Washington, D.C., on July 31, 2002, to obtain 10 kilograms (22 lb) of cocaine valued at about a quarter-million dollars from a trafficker known as "Uncle". Mizell reportedly agreed to pay for the drugs in about a week. However, Mizell failed to repay Uncle, who allegedly arranged to have Mizell murdered.

In April 2007, federal prosecutors named Ronald Washington as an accomplice in the murder.[22] Washington also is a suspect in the 1995 murder of Randy "Stretch" Walker, a former close associate of rapper Tupac Shakur, who was also murdered.[22] According to court papers filed by the prosecution, Washington allegedly "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." However, he was never convicted.[22][23]

In 2018, Netflix released a documentary analyzing the circumstances of his murder.[24] 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 have heard regarding suspects in his murder.[25] The documentary does not come to a conclusion regarding who the murderer(s) are.[26] Also in 2018, former prosecutor Marcia Clark featured Jam Master Jay's murder in an episode of her series Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48 on A&E where she examined several scenarios and suspects for the murder. She spoke to former Run DMC road manager Darren "Big D" Jordan, who denied allegations of involvement made against him by Ronald Washington. Clark further interviewed Owen, who stood by his 2003 article as largely accurate and stated he did not know who shot Mizell but believed the murder was facilitated by Mizell's close friend Ronald Washington.

2020 arrests edit

In 2020, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. were indicted for Mizell's murder. The indictment alleges that Mizell had recently acquired 10 kilograms (22 lb) of cocaine from a distributor based in Maryland. Mizell, Washington, and Jordan had an agreement to sell the cocaine on consignment, but Mizell cut the two men out after a dispute.[27] Washington had been considered a suspect very early in the investigation,[28] and Jordan had been charged in August 2003 with attempted murder after shooting Mizell's nephew, Rodney Jones, in the leg.[29]

Washington and Jordan Jr. pleaded not guilty. In November 2021, it was announced that federal prosecutors would not seek the death penalty if they are convicted, and that prosecutors would instead seek life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.[30] In October 2022, the trial was scheduled to begin on February 20, 2023.[31] Prosecutors assert that Jordan Jr. admitted to the crime in a conversation.[31] In February 2023, the trial was re-scheduled to begin in November 2023 after a key witness passed away.[32] However, after an additional suspect was charged in May 2023, the trial was rescheduled to January 2024.[33]

2023 charges edit

On May 30, 2023, federal prosecutors representing the Eastern District of New York charged a third suspect, Jay Bryant, for Mizell's murder.[34] Bryant was already in custody for drug-related charges.[35] In October 2023, it was ruled that Bryant would get a separate trial from Mizell's other two accused murders Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr.[36]

See also edit

References edit

  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. ^ a b c d e f g "Jam Master Jay". mtv.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Allen, Harry (November 5, 2002). "Jam Master Jay, 1965–2002". Village Voice. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  5. ^ "Jam Master Jay – Official Foundation". jammasterjay.info. Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, Inc. 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Owen, Frank (2003). The Last Days of Jam Master Jay, fxowen.com
  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.
  8. ^ a b "CNN – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  9. ^ "Scratch DJ Academy". scratch.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Rollins, Riz (July 25, 2016). "Roots and Branches". cityartsmagazine.com. Encore Media Group. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  11. ^ "Run-DMC member raps head in car accident". Daily Breeze. Torrance, California. December 27, 1987. p. A2. Retrieved October 30, 2022 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Cushman, Camille (July 15, 2015). "Getting to Know TJ Mizell, A$AP Ferg's Tour DJ and Son of Jam Master Jay". insomniac.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  13. ^ Lyle, Ashley (October 12, 2016). "Jam Master Jay's Son TJ Mizell Talks 'Growing Up Hip Hop' Season 2 & Being A$AP Ferg's DJ". Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  14. ^ "Tyra Myricks". jammasterjay.info. Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, Inc. 2015. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "Jam Master Jay's Alleged Killers Must Face Trial, Judge Says". Billboard.
  16. ^ "Jordan and Washington Indictment".
  17. ^ "Run-DMC DJ slain in recording studio – Nov. 1, 2002". CNN. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting". mtv.com. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "CNN – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos". CNN. Archived from the original on December 13, 2006. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  20. ^ "Celebrities & Notables – Ferncliff". Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  21. ^ "Feds Lay Out Alleged 50 Cent Plot". CBS News. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c "Suspect named in '02 slaying of Jam Master Jay". Today.com. April 17, 2007. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  23. ^ "The Top 5 Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders". newsone.com. October 24, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  24. ^ Reed, Ryan (November 28, 2018). "Netflix's 'Remastered': Watch Trailer for 'Who Killed Jam Master Jay?'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  25. ^ "'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.
  26. ^ "'ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?' dives a little too deep into conspiracy". The Daily Dot. December 8, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  27. ^ Southall, Ashley; Rashbaum, William K. (August 17, 2020). "2 Are Arrested in Killing of Jam Master Jay, Hip-Hop Pioneer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Kaufman, Gil (December 7, 2007). "Jam Master Jay's Murder: A Timeline And The Key Players". MTV News. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  29. ^ Reid, Shaheem (August 20, 2003). "Suspect Arrested In Shooting Of Jam Master Jay's Nephew". MTV News. Archived from the original on August 22, 2003. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  30. ^ "Jam Master Jay accused killers will not face death penalty if convicted". ABC7 New York. November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  31. ^ a b Mwanza Mwanza, Willy (October 22, 2022). "Man Charged With Killing Jam Master Jay to Face Trial – He Allegedly Admitted to the Murder". eurweb.com. Retrieved October 30, 2022.
  32. ^ "Witness In Jam Master Jay Case Turns Up Dead; Feds Seek To Expedite Trial". February 10, 2023.
  33. ^ Shanahan, Ed (May 30, 2023). "3rd Man Is Charged With Murder in Killing of Jam Master Jay". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  34. ^ Annese, John (May 30, 2023). "Third man charged in cold-case murder of hip-hop icon Jam Master Jay in Queens". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  35. ^ "Third suspect charged in 2002 fatal shooting of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay". CBS News. May 30, 2023. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  36. ^ Annese, John (October 15, 2023). "Jam Master Jay murder suspect will get separate trial from other two accused killers". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 28, 2023.

External links edit