The murder of one of hip-hops most iconic deejays may have been officially declared a cold case, but the reason why he was killed is still hotly debated among fans. Jam Master Jay, who handled turntable duties for Hall of Fame rap trio Run-DMC, was killed in his Queens, New York City, studio 16 years ago today.
The case remains unsolved.
“It’s not resolved to the legal eye, but the street always talks,” Jay’s friend, Jeremy “JL” Lam, told the Associated Press.
The New York Times wondered whether Jay, born Jason Mizell, was killed over a bad business deal or a music industry feud, two things that have gotten rappers assaulted or killed in the past.
Jay, who was in debt when he died, may have been killed over owed money, Time wrote.
Rapper 50 Cent, who was a protégé of Jay, was rumored to have factored, but not necessarily blamed, in the killing, too. At the time, 50 Cent, who survived his own ambush by gunmen, was about to release his debut album that had lyrics chock full of aggressive posturing. ”One of the theories is that somebody was trying to get back at 50 Cent by taking out Mizell,” an anonymous police source told the New York Times.
Police have long had a hard time with solving the murders in hip-hop. The killings of rapping icons 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. in the late 90s have also been declared cold cases, as the code of the streets have seemingly prevented any witnesses from stepping forward.
Jay’s family suspects the same is true this time around.
“We know it’s the anniversary but we don’t like to talk about it much anymore,” Jay’s older sister, Bonita Jones, told the AP last year.
Rest in peace, Jam Master Jay. See one of his iconic moments below from 1984: