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Thu, 01.21.1965

A Rapper of Peace, Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay

*Jam Master Jay was born on this date in 1965. He was an African American disc jockey, and musician specializing in Rap and Hip-Hop.

Jason Mizell, (his birth name) was from the Hollis section of Queens, New York and was a founding member of the pioneering rap trio Run DMC. Mizell was 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 "Peter Piper" and "It's Tricky." Uniquely, Run DMC and their songs were never about violence.

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. The group promoted education and unity. In "It's Tricky," they sang: "We are not thugs (we don't use drugs) but you assume (on your own); they offer coke (and lots of dope) but we just leave it alone."

Mizell said in a 2001 interview with MTV, "We always knew rap was for everyone, anyone could rap over all kinds of music." Jason Mizell was shot and killed at his recording studio near the New York neighborhood where he grew up on October 30, 2002. Mizell was married and had three children. 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."

Mizell often let local musicians record for free at the studio, and had remained in Queens to give back to the community.

Reference:
All Media Guide
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