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Hip-Hop News: JMJ Case Progressing Slowly
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
11/6/2004 6:39:50 AM

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

At his platinum-selling peak, when rap pioneers Run-DMC were a worldwide sensation, Jam Master Jay still drew musical inspiration from the gritty streets of his native Queens.

Two years after a mystery gunman walked into Jay's recording studio and pumped a bullet into his head, those same streets have offered few clues about his killer. On the anniversary of his death on October 30, 2002, family members and investigators say the case has been hampered by dead-end leads, reluctant witnesses and bad publicity.

Investigators say they are certain that Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, knew his killer. But they know little else. Not even a $60 000 (about R364 000) reward for information leading to an arrest has elicited a response.

"The case is progressing at a slow rate," said Lt Richard Bellucci of the Queens Homicide Task Force.

One theory - that the rapper was involved in a drug deal gone bad - has cast enough of a cloud over his legacy to stall a proposal that would rename a portion of a Queens street to Jam Master Jay Way.

"It's not a top priority," said Yvonne Reddick, manager of the Community Board that received a request for the name change.

Family members acknowledge that Jay, the founding member of Run-DMC, left behind a mountain of debt. But they insist he was not mixed up in drugs. Police "never found any proof of that," said his mother, Connie Mizell-Perry.

During the 1980s, Mizell made rap music history 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.

Mizell's last moments were spent at the 24/7 recording studio. According to a performer working in the studio, a man wearing a black tracksuit appeared, embraced Mizell, pulled out a .40-calibre pistol and opened fire.

A first round missed Mizell and injured performer Urieco Rincon. A second bullet, this one fired from point-blank range, entered the left side of Mizell's head. The shooter vanished.

Speculation followed that Mizell was killed because he owed money in a drug deal. Some authorities also suggested that Mizell was caught in the crossfire of a rivalry between rap figures who associate with known criminals.

Rincon has told investigators he did not recognise the shooter. Others in the studio were of little help and some even have hired lawyers, said Derrick Parker, a retired detective who monitored the rap world for the police department.

"Everybody has counsel," Parker said. "It makes it complicated."

But police officials say some witnesses who were at first too scared to talk have started to open up, and detectives remain hopeful the killer will be caught.

Meanwhile, Mizell's mother has busied herself by raising money for a charitable foundation named after her son. She prefers to focus on his successes in life, not his violent end.

"There's always a good feeling when I think about Jason," she said. "He's here in spirit." - Sapa-AP

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