Jam Master Jay, a founding member of the pioneering rap trio Run DMC, was shot and killed at his recording studio near the New York neighborhood where he grew up, police said.
Two men were buzzed into the second-floor studio shortly before shots were fired inside its lounge at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police said. As of early Thursday, police had made no arrests.
The 37-year-old disc jockey, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was shot once in the head in the studio’s lounge and died at the scene, said Detective Robert Price, a police spokesman.
Urieco Rincon, 25, who was not a member of Run DMC, was shot in the leg, police said. About five other people in the studio at the time were not hurt.
“Rest In Peace Jam Master,” Run DMC’s official Web site read early Thursday, underneath a picture of Mizell.
Mizell served as the platinum-selling group’s disc jockey, providing background for singers Joseph Simmons, better known as Run, and Darryl McDaniels, better known as DMC.
The group is widely credited with helping bring hip-hop into music’s mainstream, including the group’s smash collaboration with Aerosmith on the 1980s standard “Walk This Way” and hits like “My Adidas” and “It’s Tricky.”
“We always knew rap was for everyone,” Mizell said in a 2001 interview with MTV. “Anyone could rap over all kinds of music.”
Mizell is the latest in a line of hip-hop artists to fall victim to violence. Rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur were murdered within seven months of each other in 1996 and 1997 – crimes that some believe were the result of an East Coast-West Coast rap war.
But Run DMC and their songs were never about violence. The group promoted education and unity.
In 1986, the trio said they were outraged by the rise of fatal gang violence in the Los Angeles area. They called for a day of peace between warring street gangs.
“This is the first town where you feel the gangs from the minute you step into town to the time you leave,” Mizell said at the time.
Mizell’s friends and fans gathered near the studio, located above a restaurant and a check-cashing business. The crowd included many people from the Hollis section of Queens, where the members of Run DMC grew up.
“They’re the best. They’re the pioneers in hip hop,” said Arlene Clark, 39, who grew up in the same neighborhood. “They took it to the highest level it could go.”
Chuck D, the founder of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, blamed record companies and the advertising for perpetuating “a climate of violence” in the rap industry. “When it comes to us, we’re disposable commodities,” he said.
Doctor Dre, a New York radio station DJ who had been friends with Mizell since the mid-1980s, said, “This is not a person who went out looking for trouble…. He’s known as a person that builds, that creates and is trying to make the right things happen.”
Leslie Bell, 33, said the band members often let local musicians record for free at the studio, and had remained in Queens to give back to the community.
“He is one great man,” said Bell. “As they say, the good always die young.”
Publicist Tracy Miller said Mizell and McDaniels had planned to perform in Washington, D.C., on Thursday at a Washington Wizards basketball game. Mizell had performed on Tuesday in Alabama, she said.
Mizell was married and had three children, she said.
Run DMC released a greatest-hits album earlier this year. In 2001, the rappers produced “Crown Royal,” breaking an eight-year silence.