Run-D.M.C. DJ Jam Master Jay was shot dead in a Queens, New York studio last night. Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was pronounced dead at the scene; he was thirty-seven years old.
An acquaintance, Urieco Rinco, twenty-five, was also shot and wounded, but his injuries are not life threatening. Five or six people witnessed the shooting, but, at press time, no arrests had been made.
Along with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Jam Master Jay co-founded Run-D.M.C. in 1982 in Queens. The group did more than any other act to bring rap to a mainstream audience with their three classic albums: Run-D.M.C. (1984), King of Rock (1985) and Raising Hell (1986). The group’s cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” birthed a marriage of rap and rock and resurrected the veteran rock band’s career. In 1986, they became the first rap act featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Though the rise of gangsta rap in the early Nineties pushed Run-D.M.C. out from rap’s frontlines, the group remained together and refused to modify their sound to satisfy a popular craving for the violence that the subgenre used as an anchor. Last year, Run-D.M.C. broke an eight-year hiatus and continued their fusion of rap and rock with the release of Crown Royal, featuring guest vocals from Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins.
“Run-D.M.C. represented everything good and positive about hip-hop,” said their longtime producer Russell Simmons. “Jam Master Jay was a longtime family man and one of the founders of the group that knocked down all of the doors for hip-hop.”
Mizell is survived by his wife and three children.