NEW YORK — The legacy of the late Jam Master Jay was honored Thursday night at the first annual J.A.M. Awards held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan.
Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and EMPD, De La Soul, and Jim Jones and Juelz Santana were among the many that turned out to perform and offer words of praise for the well-respected Run-DMC turntable wizard. Others took the opportunity to address the DJ's still unsolved 2002 murder that shocked the hip-hop world.
Jam Master Jay's wife, Terri Corley-Mizell, and Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels co-hosted the event, which honored Chuck D, graffiti icon Lee Quinones and Wyclef Jean for their contributions in the fields of justice, arts and music (hence J.A.M. Awards), respectively. Chuck D and Wyclef were unable to attend, but representatives accepted the awards on their behalf.
"Everyone has heard the phrase, 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' " Quinones said after receiving his award. "And I'd like to say that rings true for Jay and his legacy."
The rest of the nearly four-hour production featured appearances by Reverend Run, who spoke only briefly before he introduced EPMD. And Prodigy took to the stage (without Havoc) to run through a number of Mobb Deep tracks. Rapper-turned-rocker Everlast performed an acoustic set dedicated to JMJ, and Raekwon, M.O.P., Dead Prez and Papoose rounded out the bill.
The event, however, didn't run without a hitch.
Randy Allen, Jay's former business partner and one of the last to see the DJ alive on that fateful night five years ago, was in attendance, to the surprise of many associates of Jam Master Jay.
"Get out!" the promoter of the show was overheard shouting at Allen, who many have said they believe is withholding evidence that could be instrumental in solving the Jam Master Jay slaying, an allegation Allen has denied. Seconds later, a large group of men descended the stairs into the basement area of the Hammerstein Ballroom in search of Allen, but passed him unknowingly as he made a tense exit.
In recent interviews with MTV News, Allen has emphatically stated that Jay's family holds the key to the unresolved killing, and claims he's dedicated the past five years to putting the pieces together. He pleaded that both parties, himself and the family, should be working together instead of bickering.
Moments before the emotional confrontation, Allen and Marvin Thompson, Jam Master Jay's brother, crossed paths for the first time since Jay's funeral.
The two men were cordial, with Thompson telling Allen they need to speak, but that moment was not the appropriate time.
In a sign perhaps of more things to come as the result of the spirited festivities last night, and after five long years with no results, Boe Skagz, former member of the rap group Rusty Waters with Allen and the nephew of Jam Master Jay, extended an olive branch to his estranged partner after hearing he wanted to reconcile with the family.
"You have to reach out a certain way," Jay's nephew said. "What I would tell Randy is you need to just go and say whatever it is you can to my grandmother [Jay's mother]. I'll give you the number if he wants and help him out. That'll be good for everyone."
MTV News will have much more on the Jam Master Jay case in the coming weeks.
For full coverage of the Jam Master Jay case, see the Jam Master Jay Reports.