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DMC didn't talk to Run (born Joe Simmons) until the next day.

"Me and Run, we always talk like 'Joe, Jay's dead for real.' He said, 'No he ain't, D. You mean he's not going to be sitting over there no more? He's really dead? He's not on a plane or playing PlayStation?' We tried to figure it out. We just went through it like that. To this day, every time [we see each other] we'll just look at each other and say, 'Jay's dead?'

  "He was the embodiment of hip-hop."
"Like I said at his funeral," DMC continued, "he was the embodiment of hip-hop. He was the living manifestation of what hip-hop was about: fun, happiness, creativity and yes, he was a thug, but he didn't act like one. He was a gangsta, he was from the street, his studio was five minutes from his house. He is hip-hop."

Arguably, no act has done more to open doors for hip-hop than Run-DMC. Name an accolade for MCs and chances are than Run-DMC were the first to do it. But with the death of Jay, the remaining members have decided to stop recording and performing as a group.

"When you see Run-DMC and JMJ, it was something original, it was something special," DMC began to explain, getting teary-eyed. "What Jay represented was he made it OK to be a DJ. He wasn't just a guy back there playing records. It's three of us. I mean, we could have changed our DJ every week, but what we represented was something so unique. Out of respect to Jay, we look at it like 'All right, he served his purpose and his job was done. So out of respect for Jay, who laid his life down for hip-hop, me and Run was like, 'We gotta lay our mics down just like he laid his turntables down.' "

Although Run and DMC are no longer making music together in a group, they're both looking to put out solo albums.

"I wanted to work with the guy who produced the Beatles," DMC said of his album, Checks, Thugs and Rock & Roll, due in March. "That's on my mind 'cause I was always about vision. 'A'ight, rap's doing this, but I wanna do this.' I wanna do the next thing, and I want it to be adventurous. I mean, it's so easy for me to go and spit a verse on everybody's album and this and that, but if I'm just doing it for a check or just to be current in the video, it takes away from the whole purpose of me writing rhymes innocently in my room when I was 12 years old."

Now 36, DMC wants to inject a little more innovation into the game he helped introduce to the masses.

"I look at my music, and if I do it sincerely it's gonna be big," said D, whose album will feature work with 50 Cent, the Rev. Run, DJ Lethal and Napoleon of the Outlawz. "I got a couple of up-and-coming producers on it. I did a lot of work out in L.A. I'm trying to do a record with the Neptunes, hopefully. They told me, 'We're not gonna give you what we give everybody else; we gonna sit down with you and we gonna make some rock, pop, fire, something innovative and creative.' I think that will be fun. I'm waiting to do a record with Pink, and hopefully I'll get to do a record with LL, but he's so busy making movies and stuff.


NEXT: Spirit of Jam Master Jay lives on in Dr. Pepper commercial ...
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