Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell (1965 – 2002) was a legendary hip hop DJ, a gifted musicians and music producer, an entrepreneur, a community activist, a philanthropist, and the greatest DJ in music history. In the 80s, during the height of his career and during the dawn of a new era of technology, Jam Master Jay’s use of the record turntable as a musical instrument forever established the DJ’s role as an integral member of the band.
A self-taught DJ, Jam Master Jay’s creative genius as an artist, turntablist, and producer set standards of innovation and excellence in the music industry that remain unmatched, inspiring millions to become DJs and music producers.
During his illustrious career, Jam Master Jay and his ground-breaking, Grammy Award-winning group RUN-DMCSaturday Night Live became hip hop pioneers, saturating popular culture while staying connected to urban America. RUN-DMC was the first hip-hop group to perform on NBC’s Saturday Night Live; the first to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine; the only hip hop act to perform at LIVE AID; and the first to receive a product endorsement deal (Adidas). Jam Master Jay is the first DJ in history to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His early success with RUN-DMC was followed by a similarly successful second career as an independent producer and President/CEO of his JMJ Records and 111 Posse labels. Highly sought after for his instincts as a talent scout, mentor, and promoter, Mizell’s skills launched the careers of platinum-selling hip hop act Onyx, renowned groups like The Afros and Fam’lee, and his most notable protege, hip hop heavyweight 50 Cent. As 50 will attest, it was Mizell who discovered him, trained him, and produced the first tracks he rhymed on.
Throughout his career, Mizell used his fame, talent, and wealth to speak out against global social, political, and economic oppression, and to open doors for opportunity for countless young people in music, fashion, entertainment and other industries. A vocal advocate for education and economic empowerment, Jam Master Jay supported many of the youth in his community and beyond who sought his advice and guidance as they pursued careers in music and other industries. In 2000, he founded the Scratch DJ Academy to educate youth interested in becoming DJs, and he was well known for personally funding college educations for young people who could not afford them.
On October 30, 2002, Jam Master Jay’s life met a tragic end when the 37 year old was murdered in his Jamaica, New York recording studio. Though his murder remains unsolved, his legacy live son through the Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, a national non-profit, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization committed to making a lasting impact in the lives of our youth and their families.