The DJ, born Jason William Mizell, was one-third of the most influential hip hop group of all time, Run-D.M.C., known for such classic songs as "It's Like That" (also note the B-side, "Sucker M.C.'s"), "Walk This Way," "My Adidas"... the list goes on. The trio were the first hip hop group to go gold, platinum and multi-platinum; and the first to earn a Grammy nod.
Influential in his own right among his deejaying peers, Jay was a talented multi-instrumentalist. In addition to blessing the turntables, he played keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums (check especially the group's third album, Raising Hell), helping to forge the worldwide impact not only in hip hop music, but the culture as well.
In 1989, he established his own label, Jam Master Jay Records, fostering the careers of Onyx, Jayo Felony, and 50 Cent. And in 2002, he founded the Scratch DJ Academy in Manhattan to school the next generation in the art of DJ’ing and production.
Tragically, 2002 was also the year that he was killed, fatally shot in a recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, NY. His murder, more than a decade later, is still unsolved; however, his legacy lives on.
Check the videos below for a throwback look at Run-D.M.C.'s music.
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(Photo: E.J. Camp/Corbis)