Jason Mizell, also known as Jam Master Jay, was a recording artist, producer and DJ, most known for being part of the legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC. As part of Run-DMC, along with his crew members Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Mizell helped pioneer hip-hop during the 1980s and produced some of their biggest hits.
However, in 2002, at the age of 37, Mizell was shot and killed at his Jamaica, Queens recording studio. As part of Run-DMC, Mizell achieved an unfathomable amount of mainstream commercial success.
The trio’s popularity was almost instant when they released their debut single ‘It’s Like That/Sucker MCs’, and from there, it continued to grow, with their Aerosmith collaboration remaining legendary to this day. However, despite his own success alongside Rev Run and DMC, Mizell had respect for other MCs and admired one in particular.
Earlier this year, in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, the esteemed music publication Pitchfork spoke to a multitude of artists, including the epic Rev Run (real name Joseph Simmons), who unveiled Mizell’s love for Public Enemy.
Recalling the first time the trio heard the ‘Fight The Power’ creators, Simmons remembered, “I was going on tour with the Beastie Boys, and Chuck D and Hank Shocklee came to meet us at JFK Airport. Chuck said, ‘Y’all gotta hear this,’ and they gave Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen a cassette tape of a new record they had just made.”
He continued, “This song was so captivating and addictive that Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys would rush to the dressing room after the show and listen to it on my JVC boombox. It wasn’t just a statement about political and social issues—it was a statement about how no motherfuckers could make hip-hop this incredible.”
Simmons later showed the tape to Jam Master Jay, who, in amazement, exclaimed, “God has come down from heaven to rock the mic.” Rev Run added, “What’s beautiful is that Chuck said he created the cadence off of Rakim, the God MC. Sonically, it was the most powerful, ear-catching, aggressive, complete production of a Hip Hop record. It was mature and youthful. It was who we were before we started making records.”
Chuck D has always shown love for Run-DMC, and the groups of 1980s New York all made a seismic impact on the sound of hip-hop in their own unique ways and made it far richer as it began to evolve. You can hear an interview with Chuck D and DMC of Run-DMC speaking at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about the era in the video below.