Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2011

Jam Master Jay

Despite being best known for his work as one-third of the groundbreaking hip-hop group Run-DMC, Jason Mizell's cuts and scratches set him apart from his friends Joey "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. At the height of Run-DMC's reign during the '80s, the world learned about Mizell's turntablism through a long string of the group's hits including "Hard Times," the titular "Jam Master Jay" and the group's "Walk This Way" cover with Aerosmith. It was this unique style that allowed him to continue his work in hip-hop long after Run-DMC's popularity waned. Starting his own label, JMJ Records, in 1989, he produced breakout rap group Onyx and many others before reuniting with his two friends for Run-DMC's 2000 final album Crown Royal. Even though Mizell was well respected in the industry and had never dropped a diss track against another rapper, he was still a target. At age 37, as Mizell recorded in his Queens studio on Oct. 30, 2002, an assailant opened fire, killing him at point-blank range. Although several people were in the studio, no one admitted to having actually seen the shooter and no one has ever been arrested for the killing. To date, authorities say they have been unable to solve the case largely because of a lack of cooperation from witnesses.