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Jam Master Jay

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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
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 30, 2002(2002-10-30) (aged 37)
Queens, New York City, U.S.
Cause of deathMurder (gunshot wound)
  • Disc jockey
  • record producer
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • turntables
Years active1983–2002
Formerly ofRun-D.M.C.

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]

Mizell was murdered in his Queens, New York recording studio in a 2002 shooting that remained cold until two perpetrators were arrested in 2020. In 2024, both perpetrators were found guilty of murdering Mizell and face between 20 years to life in prison. A third suspect in the murder was also arrested in 2023 and is awaiting trial.

Early life


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]



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

A mural of Jam Master Jay located in 5 Pointz in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

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]

Though he and other Run DMC members were known for promoting anti-drug messages, including appearing in an anti-drug public service announcement, holding anti-drug shows, and even on their 1987 song "It's Tricky", prosecutors in his murder case alleged Mizell later got involved in dealing high-kilo cocaine in 1996.[15] However, despite revelations of getting involved in drug dealing, Mizell's family still maintained that he did not use drugs.[15]


Murder of Jam Master Jay
LocationNew York City, U.S.
Coordinates40°42′25″N 73°47′43″W / 40.706917°N 73.795139°W / 40.706917; -73.795139
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)
  • Karl Jordan Jr. (shooter)
  • Ronald Washington
MotiveAllegedly a drug dispute
TrialJordan and Washington:
January 29 - February 27, 2024
AccusedJay Bryant
VerdictJordan and Washington:
Guilty on all counts

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 Uriel 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 "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".[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 murdered Mizell.[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.

Both Washington and his accomplice Karl Jordan Jr. are believed to have entered the recording studio while armed.[27] Jordan Jr. is believed to have been the one who fired the fatal shot into Mizell's head.[28][27] A third man, Jay Bryant, is accused of unlocking the fire escape from which Washington and Jordan Jr. entered the studio.[29][30]

2020 arrests and trial


In 2020, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. were indicted for Mizell's murder. The indictment alleged 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 dealer objected to Washington's participation.[31] Prosecutors asserted that Jordan Jr. admitted to the crime in a conversation.[32] Washington had been considered a suspect very early in the investigation,[33] and Jordan had been charged in August 2003 with attempted murder after shooting Mizell's nephew, Rodney Jones, in the leg.[34]

Washington and Jordan Jr. pleaded not guilty. In November 2021, it was announced that federal prosecutors would seek life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, rather than the death penalty.[35] In October 2022, the trial was scheduled to begin on February 20, 2023.[32] In February 2023, the trial was rescheduled to begin in November 2023 after a key witness died.[36] However, after Jay Bryant was also charged in May 2023, the trial was rescheduled to January 2024.[37] Jury selection for Washington and Jordan Jr.'s trial began on January 22, 2024.[38][28][39][40][41] The trial itself began on January 29, 2024, with Jordan Jr. and Washington entering not guilty pleas and the jury hearing opening statements.[42][43][44]

On February 27, 2024, Washington and Jordan were convicted on charges of murder while engaged in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy and firearm-related murder.[45]

2023 charges


On May 30, 2023, federal prosecutors representing the Eastern District of New York charged a third suspect, Jay Bryant, for Mizell's murder.[46] Bryant was already in custody for drug-related charges.[47] In October 2023, it was ruled that Bryant would get a separate trial from Mizell's other two accused murderers Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr, scheduled to begin in January 2026.[48][45][49]


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  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. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. 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
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  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. ^ a b Peltz, Jennifer (January 27, 2024). "A trial in Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay's 2002 killing is starting, and testing his anti-drug image". Associated Press. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  16. ^ "Jordan and Washington Indictment".
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  18. ^ "Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting". mtv.com. Archived from the original on February 16, 2003. 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.
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  23. ^ "The Top 5 Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders". newsone.com. October 24, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
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  27. ^ a b "Jury selection begins Monday for two men charged in Jam Master Jay's murder". ABC7 New York. January 22, 2024. Retrieved January 22, 2024.
  28. ^ a b "Jam Master Jay murder trial starts jury selection day after Run-DMC DJ's birthday". NBC New York. January 22, 2024. Retrieved January 22, 2024.
  29. ^ https://www.bet.com/article/1c9okj/jury-convicts-two-men-on-all-counts-in-jam-master-jay-murder-trial
  30. ^ https://www.npr.org/2024/02/28/1234407240/jam-master-jay-run-dmc-death-trial
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  34. ^ 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.
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  36. ^ "Witness In Jam Master Jay Case Turns Up Dead; Feds Seek To Expedite Trial". February 10, 2023.
  37. ^ Shanahan, Ed (May 30, 2023). "3rd Man Is Charged With Murder in Killing of Jam Master Jay". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
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  42. ^ Allen, Jonathan (January 29, 2024). "Rap pioneer Jam Master Jay slain by childhood friend, godson, jury hears". Reuters. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  43. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria (January 29, 2024). "Jam Master Jay's Death Was 'an Execution'". Vulture. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  44. ^ "Trial set to begin for 2 accused of killing Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay over 20 years ago". Associated Press. January 28, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  45. ^ a b Zraick, Karen (February 27, 2024). "2 Men Are Convicted in 2002 Killing of Run-DMC D.J. Jam Master Jay". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 3, 2024.
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  47. ^ "Third suspect charged in 2002 fatal shooting of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay". CBS News. May 30, 2023. Retrieved November 7, 2023.
  48. ^ Romero, Dennis (February 27, 2024). "2 men found guilty of murder in Jam Master Jay killing". NBC News. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  49. ^ 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.