Even though it was tricky to rock around, he wore his Adidas proudly.
October 30, 2002 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Even though it was tricky to rock around, he wore his Adidas proudly. RIP Jam Master J of groundbreaking rap group Run DMC was shot and killed today. Remember where you were when these forerunners of rap came on the scene?
posted by wolfgangnorton (60 comments total)
posted by Hackworth at 8:28 PM on October 30, 2002

what a sad day
posted by dolface at 8:32 PM on October 30, 2002

fuuuuuuck. Run DMC were huge in my life. From "Hard times" to "Down with the King" they were a light in the too-often-dark world of hip hop. RIP
posted by halcyon at 8:33 PM on October 30, 2002

What a bummer. What an f-ing bummer.
posted by dopamine at 8:33 PM on October 30, 2002

I just heard on the local news. I was greatly influenced by thier music in my younger years. RIP
posted by ZupanGOD at 8:35 PM on October 30, 2002

It's tricky, to rock a rhyme
To rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's tricky!

Carrying on in the proud tradition of white people mishearing rap lyrics with hi-larious consequences.

It's cool, though. White guy Rick Rubin started Def Jam. Russell Simmons, Jam Master J's brother, joined Rick in the venture and became retardedly wealthy. Rick called his label 'Def Jam' because he misheard the word 'death' (to mean 'cool') as it slid from the mouth of early 80's MCs. Which neologism then became an authentic hip-hop lexicite.
posted by bingbangbong at 8:35 PM on October 30, 2002

couldn't tell you much about him, but getting Aerosmith back on track is enough for me (not to mention their version was better)
that sucks
posted by jdiaz at 8:35 PM on October 30, 2002

Saw the news, came here, saw the post.

"All that is needed, is two record players, a stage, a crowd, and two rhyme sayers."

R.I.P. Jay
posted by vito90 at 8:36 PM on October 30, 2002


(bbb: "retardedly wealthy"? Hoping that new adverb doesn't catch on...)
posted by hippugeek at 8:39 PM on October 30, 2002

Damn, that sucks.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:40 PM on October 30, 2002

(that would be "It's tricky to rock a rhyme" not "rock around." btw)
posted by eyeballkid at 8:41 PM on October 30, 2002

Man, even seeing the words "Jam Master Jay" in print take me back to the 23 trolley on Germantown Ave in, like, 1984 - me and my two friends saved ourselves from asskickings more than once by sharing the then-miraculous fact that we were whiteboys who knew and loved rap.

Here's to you, J. There was none higher; sucker [DJ]'s should call him "sire."
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:42 PM on October 30, 2002

Well, count me as one of those white boys who misheard the lyrics :)
posted by wolfgangnorton at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2002

True Story:

I used to work at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, TX. My first day of work, I had just walked in, and my manager grabs me and tells me that he needs some bags brought up to some rooms. I was hired for reservations, but they were short handed, so I filled in as a bellman.

I go to the luggage area and there are literally four bellcarts full of Adidas duffle bags, satchels, and backpacks. I'm all like, "Who are these bags for? Run DMC?"

They're like, "Ummm, yeah. Run DMC."

I was starstruck! I brought the bags up to the room and I was all like, "Anything else I can do for you, Jammaster Jay?"

He kind of chuckled and said, "Just Jay is fine."

"Certainly," I said. "And if you and Darrell need anything, just call for me." I didn't get a tip, but I got to meet Run DMC on my first day at the job.

And that was even better. Rest in Peace, Jay.
posted by ColdChef at 9:15 PM on October 30, 2002

posted by Modem Ovary at 9:19 PM on October 30, 2002

Russell Simmons, Jam Master J's brother

bingbangbong: Russell Simmons is DJ Run's elder brother.

Rick called his label 'Def Jam' because he misheard the word 'death' (to mean 'cool')

O.K., but there may be more to it than that.
Can't it mean "definite" or "definitely" as in Mos' Def?

And what about Def Leppard and don't forget Def Con?
posted by hama7 at 9:22 PM on October 30, 2002


*pours out some orange juice*

Very sad. I shook hands with the guy once. Nobody will ever question Run-DMC's legacy in rap though. RIP Jay.
posted by Succa at 9:24 PM on October 30, 2002

I hate to waste space reposting this but the Mos Def link was botched above.
posted by hama7 at 9:24 PM on October 30, 2002

In lieu of interesting personal anecdotes I'm just going to lie here and curse myself to sleep. I'll spare you all the play-by-play.

posted by furiousthought at 9:25 PM on October 30, 2002

Now Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose both did their thing.
but, Jam Master's gettin' loose and DMC's the king.
Cause he's the adult entertainer, child educator,
Jam Master Jay, king of the crossfader.
He's the better of the best, best believe he's the baddest.
Perfect timin' when I'm climbin', I'm rhymin' apparatus.
Lotta guts, when he cuts, girls move their butts.
His name is Jay, hear the play, he must be nuts.
And on the mix, real quick, and I'd like to say
he's not Flash, but he's fast and his name is Jay!

Rest in peace Jam Master
posted by eddydamascene at 10:01 PM on October 30, 2002

If nothing else, Run DMC proved that three middle-class black men can be as hardcore as they want to be for the purpose image control and record sales ;)

All jesting aside, it's sad when somebody is killed senselessly.
posted by The God Complex at 10:02 PM on October 30, 2002

damn. another great rap talent's life claimed by violence. i'm sure tu-pac and biggie are up there with a blunt waiting for him. *sniffle* there ain't no east coast/west coast in heaven, methinks.

i was just talking about this today at work- how some of the best in the game have been killed for bullshit reasons. the girl i was talking to had never heard of Big L, another lyrical master lost to the thug game..

when are they gonna f'in realize that once you get money you don't have to play the BS ghetto games any more? i guess the big guys have an image to maintain in order to keep their record sales up. damn shame, really.
posted by shadow45 at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2002

According to the initial reports, he was shot in a recording studio sometime around 7:30 pm. Details are sketchy, but it doesn't exactly sound like a random act of violence. Who'd want to harm Jam Master? What did Run DMC ever do to anybody?
posted by herc at 10:30 PM on October 30, 2002

See you at the crossroads, Jay...
posted by wrench at 10:37 PM on October 30, 2002

Carrying on in the proud tradition of white people mishearing rap lyrics with hi-larious consequences.

People that aren't white don't "mishear" rap lyrics?? Do we non-whites have special ears or something, so that we all hear the correct lyrics to rap music?
posted by mokujin at 10:57 PM on October 30, 2002

Any ol' ways, mentioning Jay in the same breath as Tupac and B.I.G. is an insult to him. He never stooped (well, not much) to playing gangsta, or any of that particular posturing.

No, he confined his posturing to fur hats, enormous rope chains, and Adidas by the cargo-containerful, in a way that now seems innocent and tender.

I will claim and defend a disntinction between rap and hip-hop.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:03 PM on October 30, 2002

Shadow45: Your comments are uninformed and irrelevant. Run DMC were extremely vocal in their opposition to the 'gangsta/violence rap' ethic and worked hard at maintaining the grass-roots, fun loving, make-the-best attitude of 'real' hip-hop.

Big L rapped about raping nuns. Given, he was dope (lyrically), but he was not a solid example of the pure hip-hopper, and chose to remain involved in dubious activity.

Tupac was a multi-personality infected, questionable talent: Digital Underground to 'thug life' gangsta. He also chose to be acquainted with low-life scum who basically played him like a puppet. Shock G, also of Digital Underground, took the 'high road' and remains Underground and dope.

Biggie Smalls chose to rap about drugs and murder. Neither of which have anything to do with hip-hop.

Your alignment of Jam Master J with these idiots is disrespectful and insulting.
posted by tenseone at 11:16 PM on October 30, 2002

Sorry. What adamgreenfield said...
posted by tenseone at 11:17 PM on October 30, 2002

omg how awful. i loved those guys. where was i when they came on the scene...? coat check girl at the voodoo club (after hours disco/blind pig downtown toronto) choking on years of batcave, new romantics, blitz kid, euro/brit shit. run dmc showed up one night in early '84 and did a free show that permanently shook things up for the better. thank you jay, rest in peace.

when are they gonna f'in realize that once you get money you don't have to play the BS ghetto games any more?

this isn't really applicable to jay or run dmc...! ok, not gonna rant. what adam said, yah, and tenseone.
posted by t r a c y at 11:25 PM on October 30, 2002

RunDMC were on MTV cribs last year and looked downright suburban. They had simple (though sprawling) homes and big families. I can't imagine why anyone would target Jay.

I'll await details, but I'm guessing it was a random act of violence or something.
posted by mathowie at 11:28 PM on October 30, 2002

Tenseone, I'm not sure who appointed you the custodian of hip-hop, but the genre is certainly large enough to encompass both Big L, Tupac, Biggie etc., as well as the more upbeat stuff.

For you to say that Big L was not a pure "hip-hopper" because his raps are darker than makes you comfortable is childish at best.
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:33 PM on October 30, 2002

Spacelegoman: I must apologize, you are in the right. I made knee-jerk statements based on the pedestal of which I place Run DMC.

Though I still do not equate the circumstances surrounding Big L's death with the loss of Jam Master J.
posted by tenseone at 11:43 PM on October 30, 2002

The first time I saw Run DMC was probably in the "Walk This Way" video with Aerosmith, and I've always thought that of the two bands Run DMC looked like they were having more fun.

As I continued to their music over the years (and it's a rare day that I don't make certain a Run DMC track comes up in my MP3 playlist), it always sounded like fun was their primary objective. It's no wonder that their tunes have appeared in games and movies with the same sensibilty.

The loss of Jam Master Jay means a little bit less fun in the world, and that's our loss.
posted by Inkslinger at 1:04 AM on October 31, 2002

That is very sad.

My mum once asked me want I wanted for my birthday so I asked her for a Run DMC album - Tougher than Leather. She apparently walked into the record shop and asked for Leather for Toughies by Ron Dempsey.
posted by jontyjago at 1:12 AM on October 31, 2002

Just to set the record straight Big L was killed because of beef his brother had.

I once had a problem with gangster rap but I now see it as a form of drama. One that can have close connections to actual criminal organizations. I do not get what the shock is about those connections though. One does not make much money in this world rapping about the positive. Just ask KRS-One. I see Biggie and Pac as mostly capitalists.

Side note "Rock the Bells" is still one of the hardest beats of all time to come from a rather mild sample (Bob James - Take me to the Mardi Gras).
posted by xpoint at 2:05 AM on October 31, 2002

Carrying on in the proud tradition of white people mishearing rap lyrics with hi-larious consequences.

Us whites hey?... It's true! We're so lame!!!

posted by ed\26h at 2:57 AM on October 31, 2002

R.I.P. & the upmost respect to a great urban legend.
posted by si at 3:03 AM on October 31, 2002

posted by bhell13 at 4:53 AM on October 31, 2002

According to this Guardian article, Run DMC would let local artists record for free in their studio. I had heard elsewhere that they even volunteered their time to help in the recording process.
This sure was a nice way to pay them back for all their kindness.
(Incidentally, the article implies that whoever did this was "buzzed up" to the studio, which makes random violence seem unlikely.
posted by Fabulon7 at 5:47 AM on October 31, 2002

. Rick called his label 'Def Jam' because he misheard the word 'death' (to mean 'cool') as it slid from the mouth of early 80's MCs.

Words ending in a non-voiced TH are often pronounced as ending in an F in certain forms of African-American Vernacular English, so mis-hearing is not necessarily required. Witness the cop Moose in DC.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:05 AM on October 31, 2002

from "Peter Piper" the best DMC song about Jay...

It goes a one, two, three and...

Jay's like King Midas, as I was told,
everything that he touched, turned to gold.
He's the greatest of the great, get it straight he's great.
Playing fame cause his name is known in every state.
His name is Jay to see him play will make you say:
"Goddamn, that DJ made my day!"
Like the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,
he's a maker, a breaker, and a title taker.
Like the little old lady who lived in a shoe.
If cuts were his, he would be you.
I'm not lying, y'all, he's the best I know,
and if I lie, my nose will grow
like the little wooden boy named Pinochio,
and you all know how the story goes!

Tricks are for kids he plays much gigs.
He's the big bad wolf and you're the three pigs.
He's the big bad wolf in your neighbourhood,
not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good!

There it is...

We're Run-DMC, got a beat to settle.
D's not Hansel, he's not Gretel.
Jay's a winner, not a beginner.
His pocket gets fat, other get thinner.
Jump on Jay like cows on moons,
People take Jay like dish and spoon.
Hands like all, first hails aim,
you'll see Jay again my friend!
posted by mad at 6:05 AM on October 31, 2002

xpoint- you mean "Peter Piper". Rock the Bells is an LL Cool J song and its from a Trouble Funk record that escapes me this morning.

THis is a huge loss to the real hip hop community. If I give back one tenth to the world what JMJ did then I will feel I have accomplished a lot. His music inspired me to be better person and that's the highest compliment I can give anyone. rest in peace Jay.

"this guy gave a lot for this world and he'll get his rewards in heaven

he's definitely in a better place right now"- DJ Qbert
posted by LouieLoco at 6:21 AM on October 31, 2002

posted by jragon at 8:03 AM on October 31, 2002

I remember the first time I heard Rock Box coming out of my friend's older brother's room. What is that....sound?

posted by Ty Webb at 9:01 AM on October 31, 2002

I'm wondering why Adidas hasn't put some kind of memorial blurb on their website. This is 2002 and I still immediately think of JMJ when I hear about Adidas and vice versa. You'd think they'd at least have a little something on there.
posted by oissubke at 9:30 AM on October 31, 2002

tenseone said: Biggie Smalls chose to rap about drugs and murder. Neither of which have anything to do with hip-hop.

Why don't you follow this conversation over to the Buy-A-Clue section. Thanks. Drugs and murder have nothing to do with hip-hop? People were using that as a staple for their rhymes before Christopher Wallace was born. I may not agree with either of them, but to say they aren't a mainstay in hip-hop is quite ignorant. Cute and pretty rhymes don't make for platinum albums. And to quote: you're only as good as your last LP.

Rock and roll typically claims lives through self-destructive drug use. Rap and hip-hop seem plagued by black-on-black crime and general thug-life bullshit.

You couldn't drop knowledge if you threw an encyclopedia off a cliff, dog.
posted by shadow45 at 9:42 AM on October 31, 2002

ok, troll. By the way, you forgot to quote "You couldn't drop knowledge if you threw an encyclopedia off a cliff, dog". -Celph Titled.
posted by LouieLoco at 9:59 AM on October 31, 2002

This is a sad day for all of us.

Ty - thanks for mentioning Rock Box. Now that guitar riff is in my head all day.

That's the song I associate the most with Run-DMC, partially because my brother and I used to listen to it incessantly when "Run-DMC" came out and we were discovering this "new" music over on the "black" radio station. But also because a few years later, the Beastie Boys' debut got all this press for their "innovation" of combining heavy-metal guitars with rap, as if Rock Box hadn't kicked off that whole genre!

As to Adidas, though, I felt betrayed by that corporate tie-in. Of course it's standard now, and was common then, but come on - who was it who said "Calvin Klein's no friend of mine / Don't want nobody's name on my behind"? ...guess feet are a different matter.
posted by soyjoy at 10:20 AM on October 31, 2002

That's not Celph Titled's quote. The Rubix Cuban ripped that off from Jeru a few years back.

I'm not trolling, just vexed cause of tenseone's bullshit posturing.
posted by shadow45 at 10:40 AM on October 31, 2002

RIP Jam Master Jay.

'when are they gonna f'in realize that once you get money you don't have to play the BS ghetto games any more? i guess the big guys have an image to maintain in order to keep their record sales up. damn shame, really.'

to whom, or what, are you refering? not to RunDMC or JMJ, i imagine. the modern world of mainstream rap may well be dominated by artists who make money off the gangsta image, perhaps you should be asking why these are the artists who are promoted above others. having said that, there is a difference between promoting a life of violence and describing one.
biggie and tupac were followed by the fbi every moment of the day, apart from the moments when they were being shot, alledgedly. AFAIK they were both shot by us policemen. suge knight may be a ruthless hooligan (i am sure he wouldn't mind that description), but he didn't call the hit on tupac, as snoop has suggested.
some people seem to think it is in their best interests to perpetuate the image of hip-hop as a life of violence.you (shadow45) seem to have bought this idea wholesale.
the success of de la soul, the rest of the native tongues and public enemy shook something somewhere. 'never again shall there be fun mainstream hip-hop with a coherent, politicised pro-black emancipation message' was the cry, deep in the coridors of conspiracy incorporated.
i don't know much about what RunDMC have been up in recent years, but i doubt that promoting the thug lifestyle was involved.
'Chucky D doesn't think he's nice, he knows he's nice'
Chuck D, the founder of the hip-hop group Public Enemy, blamed record companies and the advertising for perpetuating “a climate of violence” in the rap industry. “When it comes to us, we're disposable commodities,” he said.
'If we're not schooling the youth with wisdom, then the sins of the father will visit the children. And that's not keeping it real, that's keeping it wrong' - Ganstarr
don't be a sucker mc, shadow45.
posted by asok at 10:56 AM on October 31, 2002

'Two years ago, a friend of mine
Asked me to say some MC rhymes
So I said this rhyme I'm about to say
The rhyme was Def a-then it went this way'

def - and i always thought it meant 'digital electronic force' ; )
posted by asok at 11:17 AM on October 31, 2002

About 16 years ago, a friend did me a tape. It had 'It's Tricky' by Run-DMC on it, the first hip-hop track I ever dug. Soon I moved onto Public Enemy, NWA, Digital Underground, Eric B & Rakim, Above The Law... it was a golden era for rap, the late 80's/early 90's, and for me Run-DMC started it all off. And 'Walk This Way' is still one of the best singles ever.
posted by boneybaloney at 11:24 AM on October 31, 2002

asok- I Agree with you almost 100%. Let me clarify that I don't endorse this ghetto lifestyle. I really think it's BS drama perpetuated by the industry itself. If one MC transcends above it and starts rapping about puppy dogs and ice cream, he's probably going to learn real fast that noone's going to buy his latest album.

It just happens to be a motivational factor behind record sales. Thus is the nature of the business. I don't know what may have happened in recent years with Run-DMC (yes, i know they have always been 100% anti-violence, moreso after accusations of instigating fights at their shows) but damn, doesn't it look typical of all the other deaths the hip-hop and rap community has suffered?

I'm going to put my foot in my mouth over speculation as to what happened until I can find some facts. I'm just sad to see another influential artist dead over what appears to be bullshit.

And don't think I can deny the artists that make great music without the bullshit posturing of gangsta rap. Dilated Peoples, De La Soul, High and Mighty, Tribe, The Roots, Talib Kweli, a lot of Rawkus artists. Guru's Jazzmatazz Streetsoul was pretty soft. the list goes on and on, as I'm sure you know :)
posted by shadow45 at 12:59 PM on October 31, 2002

Jumping back to the FPP, how were Run DMC "forerunners of rap"? Isn't that sort of like calling the Rolling Stones "forerunners of rock"?
posted by Daze at 1:04 PM on October 31, 2002

JMJ did have a lot of "street" credentials when he joined Run DMC. But I can't imagine that this carried on for 20 some years.

I don't know what forerunners of rap is but I know that

-Run DMC brought hip hop to the masses for the first time.
-They are probably stil the best pure mc/dj group ever.
-They influenced every act that has come after them.
-Peter Piper is probably the best hip hop song ever.
-JMJ still rocked the ones and twos. I saw him less then a year ago.

Tonight I will have a very inspired Run DMC megamix at my club.
posted by LouieLoco at 1:29 PM on October 31, 2002

Dilated Peoples, De La Soul, High and Mighty, Tribe, The Roots, Talib Kweli, a lot of Rawkus artists.

That about covers all the acceptable-among-white-college-kids hip-hop bands. What about all the others who are from a rougher school of life who make violent records that aren't bullshit posturing? (DMX, et al)
posted by dhoyt at 2:35 PM on October 31, 2002

Rock Box is featured on the newest GTA game Vice City.

rip JMJ
posted by monique at 4:36 PM on October 31, 2002

dhoyt...you don't have to be white to like rap that's not gangsta. For instance, I would say Nas has a lot of anti-gangsta lifestyle lyrics, and he has a diverse fanbase. Eminem on the other hand has relatively violent lyrics, yet has a white fanbase.

Check out a Mos Def, Binary Star or Cunninlynguists show, look at the audience. Binary Star's One Man Army was in jail after high school - unlike the gangsta rappers, he learned that that's not a good life.

For that matter, listen to Eric B/Rakim or any *really* old school rappers like Man Parrish. Nothing gangsta about it.
posted by Kevs at 6:01 PM on October 31, 2002

I was so sad to hear the news this morning. I know it's uncool to think stuff like that when someone you don't know dies, but I grew up on his music and liked it. Got to see them in 1998 at Rutgers.
posted by adampsyche at 6:25 PM on October 31, 2002

The Goodie Mob alone should erase that stupid white-boy-rap thing dhoyt. And don't you dare case aspersions upon Talib Kweli. :)
posted by Dantien at 7:39 PM on October 31, 2002

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