Two weeks after Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay was murdered at a New
York recording studio, police were reportedly on the hunt for a
convicted drug dealer from Queens who may have served as a lookout
during the October 30th shooting. Though investigators initially
speculated that a music-industry rivalry could have led to the
execution-style killing, they now believe that Jam Master Jay was
murdered because of a financial dispute.
Jay was killed at his studio in the Jamaica section of Queens,
not far from the Hollis neighborhood where he grew up and where
Run-DMC got their start. Jay was shot in the head at point-blank
range while he took a break from a session with a new group called
One theory is that Jay (born Jason Mizell) had sold the same
unpublished song to two different recording artists, earning as
much as $100,000 as a result. Sources reportedly told police that
one of the two artists may have been angry enough to have him
Yet the DJ is also said to have owed $400,000 in back taxes, and
he was reportedly in debt to several different people. The police
were hoping to question two men — the suspected lookout and Curtis
Scoon, from Georgia and Queens, to whom Mizell is believed to have
owed significant amounts. A friend of Mizell’s recently received a
phone call in which a person threatened that someone would be
“coming up” from Georgia to collect money. It is not known if Scoon
made the call, and he has not been named by police as a
At press time, no arrests had been made, but police issued a
description of the gunman: a black male, between six feet and six
feet two, weighing 180 to 200 pounds and wearing a black sweat suit
and black wool cap at the time of the murder.
Eminem, Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Island
Def Jam records head Lyor Cohen have all committed money to a
reward fund, as well as towards the purchase of the $250,000 Hollis
home where Mizelll’s wife, Terri, and their three children live.
“This financial problem that we have, as a hip-hop community, we
should be able to solve this in a couple of days,” said Sean “P.
Diddy” Combs at a press conference a week after Mizell’s murder.
“Run-DMC, especially Jam Master Jay, they’re fathers of the whole
Joseph “Run” Simmons also used the press conference — attended
by the Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes and other rap stars — to
announce the official retirement of Run-DMC. “We can’t perform
anymore,” he said. “Nobody wants to see Run and D.”
At Jam Master Jay’s funeral on November 5th, hundreds gathered
in the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York in Queens to pay their
last respects to another hip-hop pioneer gone too soon. He was
buried wearing a black fedora, a black leather blazer, a thick gold
chain and his trademark white shell-toe Adidas.
In a short prayer, Run — who is a minister — spoke in the same
smoothly confident tone of his rhyming voice. “Why murder?” he
asked. “Jason was a dramatic DJ, and God knew he couldn’t leave
without drama, so, why not murder?”
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels spoke a few moments later, reading from
loose white pages that he handed to Run as he finished each one.
“Jam Master Jay was not a thug,” he said, his voice breaking. “He
was the personification of hip-hop.”