New York Hip Hop Pioneer Kool DJ AJ Dies from Unknown Causes

Kurtis Blow breaks news of friend's passing.

This year has seen lots of wins for hip hop and devastating loses, with the passing of another pioneer, one month after the death of Sean Price.

New York’s own Kool DJ AJ, who worked with Kurtis Blow and Busy Bee in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, died Wednesday. Blow announced the news on Twitter, as members of the hip hop community paid respects to the beloved spinner.

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Born on the Lower East Side, AJ became an orphan in his early teens. After the losing both parents, he relocated to Jacksonville, Fla with his sister, where they were raised by their grandmother. He later settled in the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop.

AJ's career milestones include helping Blow break the 1979 gold-selling single, “Christmas Rapping."

Though hip hop historians might remember him best for the breakout track “AJ Fresh,” off Blow’s Ego Trip  LP, and hitting the stage with Kurtis Blow, he also worked with fellow trailblazers in the ‘70s, like DJ Kool Herc, and PeteDJ Jones

He continued to work in the music business until retiring in 2010, The BoomBox reports. The details behind his sudden death are unknown. is your No. 1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.

(Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

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