Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Jam Master Jay’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: January 21, 1965
Died: October 30, 2002
Biography: Born in Brooklyn on January 21, 1965, Jason Mizell grew up playing bass, guitar, and drums in various bands before discovering the turntables when he was 13, after his family had moved to Hollis, Queens. He took quickly to turntablism, thanks to his musical experience, and soon was throwing small parties around the area. In 1982 he hooked up with high-school friends Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels as part of their hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C., agreeing to DJ for them because he wanted to be part of the band. Calling himself Jam Master Jay, he helped to not only define the sound of what would turn out to be one of the most influential rap groups ever, he also created their style, the black hats and Adidas shoes that became synonymous with their name.
Although not the flashiest of DJs, Jam Master Jay soon became one of the most recognizable and visible, thanks not only to the 1983 song "Jam Master Jay," (the B-side to "Hard Times") but to Jay's own hard, sparse beats, which served as the perfect complement to Run and D.M.C.'s already hard-edged delivery. Although the 1984 self-titled record and 1985's King of Rock helped to solidify Run-D.M.C. as the purveyors of a new kind of hip-hop, it was 1986's platinum-selling Raising Hell (an album on which Jay also played keyboards, bass, and live drums) -- containing the influential single "Walk This Way," a rap version of the 1975 Aerosmith hit that combined Run-D.M.C.'s tag-team style and Jay's turntable work with Steven Tyler's screeching vocals and Joe Perry's guitar riffs -- that gave them true superstar status. [Read more via AllMusic here]
Watch (Run DMC): Official VEVO/YouTube Page