Today would have been legendary DJ Jam Master Jay's 45th birthday. The man born Jason William Mizell was tragically gunned down in a recording studio in Queens back in 2002. As a member of Run-DMC and on his own, Jay was an inspirational member of the hip-hop community who touched most everybody he met — including Eric "Shake" James, one of the DJ's closest friends who provided this remembrance for MTV Newsroom.
By Eric "Shake" James
JMJ, what can I say? You're the greatest friend anyone could hope to have. Thank you for everything you taught and showed me, from explaining why songs are put in order on CDs to how to write with melody in mind to how to just be a great person.
I remember when you used to tap your foot when you listened to demos or new music. If a cat got the JMJ foot tap, then you knew it was hot! Remember when I was about to get that production deal, but I turned it down and you asked 'Why?' I told you that if I took it, then we wouldn't be able to hang out any more.
I remember when Onyx was making their second album and they were trying to come up with a title. Fredro Starr called you and said it was between Three the Hard Way and All We Got is Us. You asked me which one, and I said All We Got is Us, and you picked up the phone and called Fredro and said, "All we got is us!"
I remember how excited you were when I told you that 50 had signed with Dre and Emimen. I remember how excited you were when I told you I was having a son. (I think you were more excited then me.)
So happy birthday, my dude. God needed a DJ. You are always on my mind and forever in my heart! What's my name? I can't hear you! A little bit louder!
Check out LL Cool J's memories of JMJ.