Ten years ago, hip-hop lost one of its most iconic sons, Jam Master Jay, when he was fatally shot inside a studio on Merrick Boulevard in his native Queens. While legions of fans are mourning the loss of Run DMC's legendary DJ and wondering why no suspect has been brought to justice for the brutal murder, one of his closest friends, Eric "Shake" James, wants to keep the focus on all of the great things that the turntable legend born Jason Mizell did while he was here.
"I just want to focus on the positive stuff that Jay did and the way the music touched the people," Shake told MTV News. "I know he was killed, so that will always be a part of it, but it was more to Jay than just being killed, you know what I'm saying? If you ever met this guy, he was like the greatest dude. He was the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back and not ask for anything in return.
"I was running around the world with these dudes and I'm looking up at these bright lights and people screaming 'Run DMC' and going crazy and Jay never made me feel like a hanger-on type of dude. He was always introducing me to people," he added. "Anybody that we were around, he introduced me to them. Even Tupac, that's how I met Tupac. He was like, 'This is my man Shake' to Tupac. I swear running around with them was the greatest time of my life!"
Last month, the multi-platinum triumvirate from Hollis, Queens known for such crossover hits as "It's Tricky," and "Walk This Way," reunited for the first time in more than a decade without Jam Master Jay to perform for thousands at Jay-Z's Made in America Festival in Philadelphia.
"That was the greatest right there," Shake told MTV News. "I've been waiting for that since the day they stopped touring. It's kinda crazy because we were in Philly doing the rehearsals for Made in America and it was cool and it great but it was supposed to rain. It was cloudy and we going on at five and it was supposed to rain from three to nine or whatever. So it was the first show and I said to myself, 'Man, Jay ain't gonna let it rain.' So we went on and performed and it didn't rain until we got off the stage. That was incredible."
The highlight of the performance, though, was JMJ's two sons, Jason "Jam Master J'Son" Mizell Jr. and T.J. "Dasmatic" Mizell hitting the stage in a fitting tribute to their legendary father.
"That was incredible," Shake told MTV News. "I be watching Dasmatic DJ and he already look like his father but when Jay used to really get busy, his bottom lip used to hang So as I was looking at Dasmatic DJ, I was like, 'Oh, sh--, he look just like Jay' and then I was like, 'The only thing he missing is that bottom lip hanging' and then while he was up there DJ'ing, that f---in' bottom lip dropped and I was like, 'oh sh--!'"
In a recent exposé on the still-unsolved murder case, NY Daily News reported that JMJ's murder was likely the result of a decade-old drug debt owed to former friend Curtis Scoon. The story further alleged that Ronald Washington was either the lookout or the gunman in the slaying. Shake, who is despondent that there is still no justice for his friend, doesn't have any new information about the ongoing investigation of the case.
"I heard Curtis Scoon's name back in the day, but I don't know him personally or nothing like that," Shake told MTV News. "I hope they find out who killed him, but as time passes, I guess it gets harder and harder. But maybe the police already know who did it and they just can't prove it."
Shake does his part in keeping Jam Master Jay's name alive with charitable initiatives that include the JMJ Back to School Giveaway, a community event that was held at Shake's Milwaukee barber shop, where school supplies were given away, as well as free Adidas, as part of Adidas' "Show Us How You Represent" marketing campaign.
"Whatever we do that's positive for the community in Jay's name, Adidas is always there," Shake told MTV News. "We want to do this every year. Jay was a very positive person and we want to continue that because it has been 10 years and people start to forget."
Jason Mizell was fatally shot in the head at approximately 7:30 on the night of October 30, 2002 in his recording studio just miles from his childhood home in Hollis. Police found two .45-caliber shells in the studio's lounge where Mizell and Urieco Rincon (leg) were shot. Mizell is survived by his wife, Terri Corley-Mizell, his three sons, mother, brother and sister.