Sacha Jenkins Remembers Jam Master Jay

In 1992, I went to Howard University for their hip hop conference. Sean “Diddy” Combs was big man on campus (even though I think he was on the verge of dropping out).  It was wild. I had just published a newspaper called Beat Down with a childhood friend and we were feeling ourselves (way too early for that). I remember seeing Common Sense standing in the corner of a grand lobby, with lots of fine young ladies and dudes wearing Timbos milling about. Common was alone, sipping something strong out of a flask. I was familiar with his first album, Can I Borrow A Dollar?, which I’ve always felt was dope. I told him as much and he seemed surprised by the fact that I knew who the hell he was. Can it be that it was all so simple then?

Minutes later, on the street, I spotted a new little dude r&b group called Famlee. I had a promo copy of their record. I found them mildly entertaining. Sorta like a Queens version of Bel Biv Devoe, only with shorties. They were signed to Jam Master Jay’s label.  Jam Master Jay being THE JMJ of RUN DMC fame. The Kings From Queens.  The man behind the wheels. We were all like “oh shit, Famlee!” But then, we quickly realized that Jay was trailing behind them and then it was like OH, SHIT J-M-J are the letters of his name!”  Jason “Jam Master J” Mizell. In the flesh, baby.

We all wanted to shout Jay out and let him know how much we appreciated RUN DMC and what they meant to garden-variety Queens cats like us. We were nervous, of course. It’s not like I was trying to kick it to a young hottie but still, how do you approach Jay without coming off like a herb or a groupie? But Jay was seasoned, had traveled the world; he’d received props and love from everywhere. He was an ambassador. He came up to me and said whuddup and we rapped for like 20 minutes. Was completely surreal how cool and HUMBLE the dude was. He gave me his JMJ records business card. I’m sure he gave 50 Cent that same business card years later, because Jay is the man who put Curtis—a little known rappin’ thug dealer from South Jamaica—on.

Ten years later, the murder of Jason Mizell hasn’t been solved. Jay was a man of the people, a man of his community, someone who LIVED there. He was a hero in his community. Many people wondered what the hell he was still doing in the ‘hood.  Jay represents the essence of hip hop in its purest form—never forget where you came from. Stay there. Give back. Get involved. Jay did all those things and he paid the price for it. And weather or not he was involved with anything unsavory, hip hop’s great blues refrain applies to Jay, too: “Don’t snitch.” So the individual/s responsible for his murder continue to go to the Coliseum mall, smoke Newports, and watch “Basketball Wives.” The world is a scary place.

RIP JMJ. You gave more than most and that gift continues to inspire and give back. Your assassins will never be able to erase what you have so beautifully sketched.

Related Articles


OG GRAFFITI BEATS, Mesh sprays it and plays it


Chris Brown Thinks He’s a Graffiti Writer: FOH


Cope With The Truth


Latest News

wale is dropping his 'shine' album tomorrow News

Wale Pushes His ‘SHINE’ Release Date Up to Tomorrow

Get ready for the DMV rapper’s fifth LP
calvin harris is really going for it Music

Young Thug Announces Album Title of the Year

And he might actually release it next week

HAIM Gets Serious With Paul Thomas Anderson

The sisters hit the studio with the master for the "Right Now" video
Tupac News

Tupac Was Killed Because “He Interfered in Something He Had No Power In”

Former Death Row bodyguard MOB James speaks
R. Kelly News

A Cop Is Suing R. Kelly For Sleeping With His Wife And Giving Her Chlamydia

Putting his key In the wrong ignition
Building Beats is a digital music education non-profit in New York, started by Phi Pham, that reaches 300 kids per week at 35 sites. News

Hey, You’re Cool! Building Beats

Teaching not only music, but also confidence and collaboration
Trump News

Trump’s Tax Cuts Are For Everyone (Unless You’re Poor)

Today's edition of The Daily Blunt
anderson paak listening room Music

New Music From Anderson .Paak, Sensi, Lapalux and More

The Listening Room (April 26, 2017)
kevin gates sentenced to 30 months in prison News

Kevin Gates Will Return to Prison

A rediscovered gun charge gets him 30 months
kendrick-merch-lead Music

Kendrick Lamar Just Dropped New ‘DAMN.’ Merch

That New Kung Fu Kenny!
FMK7's grey classic statues reflected into infinity and bathed in red light. Art

Doubletap: @FMK7

Creations caught in an infinity loop

‘All We Need Is Another Chance’ Doc Looks At The Power of Music Behind Bars

Cutting a hit record in the belly of the beast
anderson paak, schoolboy q, and ty dolla sign link up for another remix to "come down." Music

Anderson .Paak Remixes “Come Down” Again, This Time With ScHoolboy Q and Ty Doll...

The third time's a charm

Common on ‘Letter to the Free,’ J Dilla and Activism in Hip Hop Now

Real talk at Tribeca Talks
Simon The Rabbit News

It’s Not Even Safe for Big-Ass Rabbits to Fly United

Maybe no one should even try?

Cop Puts Gun To Unarmed Man’s Head, Says, “I’ll Kill You”

“The only thing I did wrong that day was run."