Tag Archives: Jam Master Jay

The Attempt to Remember DJ Jam Master Jay

Came across a story by J.R. Gramble 
and thought I would share…
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 MTV Video Music Awards 1985

Being from Queens, growing up immersed in the infant stages of this explosive hip-hop culture, it was natural for me to write a piece celebrating the life of JMJ, the unlimited boundaries of his musical influence, and how his mere presence symbolized a brighter future for any young African-American kid with a dream and drive. Living in Queens gave you direct access to those larger than life stars plastered on the walls of my bedroom. You might see them at the barbershop with their Pathfinder parked outside. Or the fish spot posted up by their 5-series Beamer.

Run DMC was the first mega act I saw in concert at Brooklyn’s Beacon Theatre back in 1986. My aunt took me to a show featuring them, New Edition and Shannon. And thanks to dudes like JMJ, superstardom was a realistic aspiration in Jamaica, Queens. But love for him wasn’t just an around the way thing. Back in the 80s, for kids in places like McCook, Nebraska, Des Moines, Iowa and Jackson, Mississippi; guys like JMJ were superheroes, with images in magazines and on TV screens. His adoration nationwide was massive, but nothing like the love he gets back home.

Queens, NY is one of the original breeding grounds of hip-hop. Its infectious sound penetrates human souls and conquers barriers all over the world. Throughout its history, DJ’s and rappers from the Queens area range in prominence from up-and-coming newbies to legendary pioneers of the game, like Run DMC and Jam Master Jay.

Although JMJ was born in Brooklyn, he moved to Hollis at the age of 10. Adopted as one of Queens’ own, by 13 he was talented enough to DJ on live party sets. And as fate would have it, JMJ met Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels after they graduated high school. He agreed to DJ for them because he wanted to be down with a band, any band that could utilize his ability to play various instruments. But he wasn’t just a formidable third leg. In the 2008 documentary 2 Turntables and a Microphone, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons calls him, “The leader of Run DMC and the Hollis crew.”

(excerpt: read more HERE)