Jam Master Jay
Hip-Hop News: JMJ's 'First Lady' Speaks
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/3/2004 12:13:08 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Jam Master Jay.

Jam Master Jay's mother was never a big fan of his music.

"It's just not my thing," Connie Mizell-Perry says in a brief respite from a more somber subject: the unresolved killing of her son.

More than 16 months have passed since an unidentified gunman entered a Queens recording studio and put a bullet in the head of the peace-promoting hip hop legend, a founding member of Run-DMC whose real name was Jason Mizell.

"I've admitted to myself he's gone," Mizell-Perry said over lunch at a Manhattan diner. "I don't dwell on how he left."

In an Associated Press interview, Mizell-Perry dwelled mostly on fond memories of her youngest child's rise to fame as she promoted a new charity named in his honor. The Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth, which she runs with another son, Marvin Thompson, hopes to raise $2 million for college scholarships.

During the 1980s, Mizell made rap music history by working the turntables as Joe "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels rapped on hits like "King of Rock," "It's Tricky" and a Top 40 remake of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way."

The threesome developed their sound as teens in the basement of Mizell-Perry's Queens home. She was busy working as a teaching assistant and singing in church choirs. The other kids on the block had to break the news to her that her son was famous.

"'Don't you know he's Jam Master Jay?"' the mother recalled them asking. "I didn't know anything about that. He was Jason to me."

In Run-DMC's heyday, Mizell demonstrated his success to his mother by taking her on the road. There were sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden and other arenas. And limos. And bodyguards.

"He'd introduce me as 'My First Lady,"' she said.

Mizell-Perry eventually moved back to her native North Carolina. Her son stayed put in Queens.

The end came on Oct. 30, 2002 at the 24/7 recording studio, where in recent years, Mizell, 37, had helped produce and promote lesser-known rap artists. That night, according to one witness, a man wearing a black sweatsuit appeared and _ after embracing Mizell _ pulled out a .40-caliber pistol and opened fire.

A first round missed Mizell, instead injuring a performer who was working in the studio. A second bullet, this time fired from point-blank range, entered the left side of Mizell's head. The shooter vanished.

Speculation followed that Mizell, who was drowning in debt, may have been killed on orders from someone he owed money. Some authorities also have suggested Mizell was caught in the crossfire of a rivalry between rap figures who associate with known criminals.

A police spokesman, Deputy Chief Michael Collins, said Tuesday that the Mizell investigation "is still very active." Privately, investigators have complained that they're stymied by uncooperative witnesses.

Mizell-Perry feels in the dark.

Even in the days after the shooting, "I was never called" by police, she said. "It's like they didn't know that Jason had a mother."

The mother insists her son had no obvious enemies _ "I never dreamed anyone would want to kill him" _ yet theorizes his assailant was "someone he knew very well." She also believes the killer, though at large, must be suffering.

"They're not free right now," she said. "Whoever did this is leading a troubled life."

That lesson is reflected in the one Run-DMC song Mizell-Perry says she likes, a cautionary ode called "Pause."

"Pause, if you did it, admit," the song says. "Next time, you think of doin' a crime/ Pause, and remember this rhyme."

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