The entire hip-hop community mourned Run-D.M.C. DJ Jam Master Jay’s death in 2002. Born Jason William Mizel in 1965, he died at just 37 years old in a fatal shooting. While he’s sadly not the first hip-hop artist we’ve heard of who died this way, Jam Master Jay’s case remained cold for over 18 years. Now in Jan. 2024, a trial is finally underway to try and convict Jay’s killers.
It’s clear that Jay died of a shooting, but what motivated it has been up for investigation throughout the decade. Many believe it was tied to his waning net worth and financial problems. So what was Jam Master Jay’s net worth at his time of death?
Jam Master Jay had an estimated net worth of –$1 million.
Yes, you read that correctly. Before he died, it’s estimated that Jay was about $1 million in debt. While he was a successful and famous hip-hop artist, part of one of the most successful rap groups in the world, the financial payoff couldn’t keep up with his lifestyle.
“Run-D.M.C. was a group of firsts. The first rappers featured prominently on MTV, to appear on Saturday Night Live, to grace the cover of Rolling Stone, and to win a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award,” the Hall of Fame said. “They broke down barriers for future rap acts, crossed boundaries between rap and rock, and dispelled old notions of what rap could be.”
Jam Master Jay
Musician, DJ, and record producer
Net worth: –$1 million
Jam Master Jay was known as the DJ for notable hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C. whose life sadly ended in a mysterious murder that remained unsolved for decades.
Birth Name: Jason William Mizel
Birth Date: January 21, 1965
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York
Place of Death: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Date of Death: October 30, 2002
Mother: Connie Thompson Mizell
Father: Jesse Mizell
Spouse: Terri Corley (m. 1991)
Children: Jason Mizell Jr. (DJ Jam Master J'Son), Jesse Mizell, TJ Mizell, Tyra Myricks (b. 1992)
Education: Andrew Jackson High School
Even still, an investigative piece by Frank Owens in Playboy alleged that Jay had serious financial problems around the time of his death. This may have motivated him to deal cocaine, despite his earlier lessons learned about the dangers of crime. Jay’s friend, Eric “Shake” James, went on a 4-day trip with him to a house in a Milwaukee suburb.
Shake explained, “Jay told me he was going through some problems. It was regular everyday bulls--t. People owed him money.” Apparently, an acquaintance named Goldie owed Jay money from a “fishy business arrangement” in addition to Randy Allen. Allen was Jay’s business partner and one of the witnesses of his murder.
“Randy is taking my money, man,” Jay told Shake. “I’m glad that Rusty Waters is signed to Virgin. I’m happy that Randy is finally out of my pocket.” Shake added, “Jay didn’t suspect Randy was stealing from him. He knew Randy was stealing from him. It had been going on for a while.”
In addition to this, Jay allegedly owed about $500,000 to the IRS, as well as huge amounts for his home’s “vast mortgage” and payments on his recording studio. A theory about Jay’s death pointed to Curtis Scoon, a neighborhood big-shot, whom Jay may have had a money dispute with.
Jam Master Jay’s cause of death was murder by shooting.
Sadly, Jay was shot and killed on Oct. 30, 2002, at 7:30 p.m. at his recording studio in Jamaica, Queens on Merrick Boulevard. 25-year-old Urieco Rincon was also shot in the ankle, but he survived. Jay was clearly a target for an intentional murder that remained unsolved for decades.
The story that finally had enough legs to go to trial was that Jay acquired 10 kilograms of cocaine for distribution, which he would split between himself and his friends, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., among others. However, investigators have pinned the murder on Washington and Jordan Jr., whose motive was that Jay cut them out of the deal.
According to the indictment, the two men entered Jay’s studio with firearms and Jordan quickly shot him in the head. Both were charged with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder, although they’ve pleaded not guilty. Jay Bryant has been accused in a separate trial of purposefully letting Washington and Johnson into the studio to kill Jay.
However, most evidence is circumstantial with very little forensic evidence, a conviction will be “Tricky.”