Thursday, October 31, 2002


by Wayne Robins

Whatever motive some sad sack of human protoplasm had for murdering Jason Mizell, I'll tell you what the real reason was: Nothing. No reason at all.

I'm sadder than words can say over the truly senseless killing of Jam Master Jay, the turntable wizard of hip-hop's venerable first wave champions, Run-D.M.C. His murder was front page news here in Queens, where Mizell, Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMc" McDaniels grew up together in what had been the middle class enclave of Hollis, and where they had stayed, with close ties to their families and community, through their rise to sudden fame, fall to brief obscurity, and ultimate triumph as hip-hop's most respected elders.

I met them a few times over the years in interviews, and all I can say is, they were good people. The first time I spoke ot them for Newsday back in the mid-1980s, it was at a get together on the Friday of a 4th of July weekend, at either Joseph's or Darryl's parents house. A late afternoon cookout. Plenty of neighborhood kids wandering through, saying hi, not paying tribute to the new stars but sharing the pleasant buzz of a neighborhood (LL Cool J lived around the block) whose boombox sounds were starting to rock the world.

Tonight around Merrick Blvd. where Jay was killed in his studio Wednesday night, shot in the head by someone who'd been buzzed into the building, the all-too-usual spontaneous shrines are going up, people are driving around playing Run-D.M.C tunes in their car stereos in tribute, but it's not enough. When are people going to stop settling their beefs with guns? It's like in the hip-hop community, no disagreement is too inconsequential to demand anything less than capital punishment dispensed by the aggrieved. It's absolutely medeival. What happened to Jason Mizell, a father and parent, is part of a sickness that is evolving beyond outer limits of acceptable human behavior. It is, among the hip-hop tribe that gives voice to so many yet offers hope to so few, a kind of cannibalism.

(c) 2002, Wayne Robins. All rights reserved. e-mail

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