Nine years ago today (October 31), the music world was stunned to learn that one of hip-hop’s most famous DJs had been shot and killed the night before.
Jam Master Jay of legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC was gunned down in his Hollis, Queens recording studio 24/7, on October 30, 2002.
Just like the murders of two other famous hip-hop stars, Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, Jam Master Jay’s murder remains unsolved.
Out of all of the unsolved murders that may plague the NYPD, Jam Master Jay’s murder still sticks out like a sore thumb for the department.
If the NYPD or the FBI are working on anything, they sure haven’t bothered to contact any of the witnesses, most of whom say they have not heard from investigators since the shooting, in 2002.
Jam Master Jay, along with Run and DMC, are pioneering musicians, who have been recognized by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for their accomplishments in pop culture.
Russell Simmons is still a world-famous mogul, while his brother Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons has reinvented himself since Jay’s death, as hip-hop’s most loved Reverend. DMC continues to do good and has become a champion of foster children.
But despite all of his famous friends, Jay’s murder and death curiously goes without mention all year. His birthday passes and with the exception of a few websites, including AllHipHop.com, or the efforts of The Scratch DJ Academy, Jay’s passing mainly goes unnoticed every year.
How could this be? There were five people in the recording studio when Jam Master Jay was gunned down. There were security cameras. Furniture had been re-arranged while Jay was gone. There was even a convention going on in an office next door.
How could two masked gunman brazenly walk into the studio, shoot Jay in the back of his head and kill him, despite a police precinct (shout out to the fine detectives at the 103rd) being right up the block?
Some of these questions are answered in this exclusive interview between Rodney “Boe Scaggz” Jones and AllHipHop.com’s founder, Grandmaster Grouchy Greg.
Jam Master Jay’s nephew is a key figure in the case and a former member of the rap group Rusty Waters, which Jay had pinned so much hope on.
The interview with Boe is important, because this is the first time he’s ever gone on record in detail, about what happened the night Jam Master Jay was killed, what he did after the murder, his thoughts on Randy Allen, and the entire complicated scenario.
To refresh yourself on the key players, click on the links associated with each person’s name.
“I was kicking him and calling his name. I’m calling his name, kicking his foot, “Jay, Jay, Jay.” He ain’t moving, he ain’t saying nothing. It was really unbelievable at that point. ” – Boe Scaggz.
This was perhaps the final moment of the life of Jam Master Jay. This was how a legend in the rap community died. In cold blooded murder.
AllHipHop.com: What have you been up to for the past nine years since Jam Master Jay passed away? I know you were part of the Rusty Waters Group, that was a big part of Jam Master Jay’s plans.
Boe: Yeah, well when we first… like in the first year, like I guess 2003-2004, I was still kind of running around with Garnet Reid, he was like the manager for Rusty Waters. Me and him was doing a little something. Then I signed to Russell Simmons Music Group, but then that kind of fell apart, and then three years ago, I had did a little deal with Irv Gotti. I was over there at Murder, Inc. for a little bit but you know, with Gotti… I don’t know what his thing is, but that’s my dude. We just ain’t get far, you know what I’m saying? So now me and my boy Chopper started up a company called MOE, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, I’m definitely familiar with MOE. You and Chopper have been building it up for the past few years now. How’d you get down with Chopper?
Boe: Actually, I met Chopper years ago, maybe like 2003 when I was running around with Garnet I met Chopper. We was staying at Bangladesh’s house, he did a whole bunch of little joints. So we hooked up out there. We made one song together, this track called “Quarterback,” that Bangladesh actually produced. Then he went about his business and I went about mine, but we always stayed in contact. You know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: That’s dope. What kind of influence did Jay have on your rap career? I interviewed your grandma a few years back and she said he was like a father figure to you. I’m curious what kind of influence he had on you.
Boe: I think everything… all my music stuff comes from Jay. My mom didn’t do music or my pop didn’t do music, you know what I mean? So everything that I did that’s music, it comes from Jay. When he first had 50 Cent, we used to be in the studio with 50 Cent. Ja Rule used to be in there with us. We used to be all together. And I used to be watching this. I wasn’t really too good back then, but I had that potential, I wanted to do it. He was like “keep going, you’re going to be better than 50 and them, you’re going to be better than them.” I just kept going and going and going. Without Jay I probably wouldn’t even be doing this. I probably would be playing basketball for a career because I was a really good basketball player.
AllHipHop.com: If you look at Tupac Shakur and Biggie’s murders, they’re so much in center and in the forefront, whereas with Jam Master Jay, you might go a whole year and until it’s his anniversary you don’t hear anything. You don’t hear anything about the investigation, you don’t hear anything about anything. You know, Jay was maybe more influential than both of those dudes, because of the many firsts that Run-DMC accomplished as a group. They are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With Jay being such a high profile murder and so influential, why aren’t more of his “friends” pushing harder?
Boe: I think everybody has their own agenda, you know? It’s like when they say out of sight, out of mind. Every now and then they might think of Jay over there, but their whole life isn’t dedicated to Jay like how my life is.
AllHipHop.com: Did you see “Two Turntables and a Microphone? (It was produced by his Jay’s cousin Stephon “Phonz” Watford.
Boe: Yeah, I seen Two Turntables and a Mic.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, what did you think about that?
Boe: I think that’s garbage. I think that’s straight garbage. I didn’t like how they tried to point the finger at Randy Allen like that. Without actually having any facts or anything like that. It almost makes some people in that DVD look guilty, but when you try to swing the blame on somebody without having no real facts, it kind of makes you look a little guilty yourself. When I look at that DVD, I look at it and it’s like I don’t know. I just think that my cousin Stephon was trying to find a way for him to come up and get some money, because I don’t really see how did that documentary help anybody. It really just pointed the finger at one person, and made the world think that actually Randy was the person that had something to do with Jay getting killed. People are just assuming, and I don’t think that’s good to just put something on somebody you don’t really know what the deal is.
AllHipHop.com: Especially something like murder.
Boe: Especially that. And everything he’s talking about on that documentary is me. Like these are the things that I told him. So he’s actually talking the documentary like he’s me.
AllHipHop.com: It’s interesting to hear you talk about Randy like that, because right afterwards, there were so many people pointing the finger almost at Randy, saying he had something to do with it. There was a lot of heat on him. I know you were cool with Randy Allen from working through Rusty Waters. What was it like working with Randy?
Boe: Before Jay passed, me and Rand were like brothers, you know what I’m saying? He was like my uncle. He’s the older guy, probably about Jay’s age. So he was kind of like an uncle to me. We was real close. I never really think of him in a funny manner. He was like Jay’s best friend. Maybe if Jay felt something about him, he didn’t tell me. I don’t know exactly. But he didn’t seem like… we was all together like a family.
AllHipHop.com: So on the day that Jay got killed, what were you doing that morning? Before you even got to the studio to get a haircut.
Boe: I was excited because we had just signed a deal with Virgin Records and we had actually just received half of the check. So we just got our upfront money. I was really ready to go on tour with Jay, our tour had started the next day. So I was just kind of really happy to finally have my own money and be able to do my own thing. I was only a kid. So Jay was taking care of me anyway because I was his nephew, and I was just a child. I wasn’t even 20 years old. But when I got to the studio I didn’t have any money, so I figured Jay, would give me a couple dollars or whatever. And he was like “I don’t have the money, call Randy. You know, your check just came in today, you should try to get over to Randy and get your money.” So I’m “like oh yeah, alright.”
So I call Randy and go down and meet Randy. We’re on the Avenue, we’re shopping and everything since we’re leaving tomorrow, so we’re shopping and things like that, and I decided to get a haircut. We both were going to get haircuts. I’ve got braids and Randy has like a bald head. I was sitting down to get my cut, and he went back to the studio. He took my bags and everything that I had brought from the Avenue, he took it with him back to the studio. He wound up staying in the studio, and I wound up staying and getting a haircut. When I finished getting my haircut, I went and started walking back to the studio, and that’s when Mike B. ran towards me, saying something about there was a shooting in the studio.
I wasn’t really in a hurry to get back into the studio because I didn’t have no gun or nothing like that and he didn’t really make it clear that they shot Jay dead in the studio. He just said there’s a shooting in the studio. I’m thinking ni**a’s still in there with guns and s**t. I didn’t try to hurry up to get back to the studio, but when I did make it to the studio, it’s was not good. Jay’s on the floor.
AllHipHop.com: You actually saw Jay? You got there in time to actually see Jay pass away? Wow. Did you see Randy come out?
Boe: When I got there, Randy wasn’t in the studio. He had already run out of the studio.
AllHipHop.com: What was going through your mind? That’s deep actually seeing it right after it happened.
Boe: When I seen him on the floor, I was calling his name, kicking him. I’ve been shot before. Sometimes, a ni**a might be passed out, you might not be dead. It wasn’t registering in my brain. My brain wasn’t comprehending it. So I was kicking him and calling his name. I’m calling his name, kicking his foot, “Jay, Jay, Jay.” He ain’t moving, he ain’t saying nothing. It was really unbelievable at that point. And I wasn’t immediately saddened or raged because it happened so quick, I couldn’t even really believe that this was going on. It was so unbelievable. I didn’t really feel that s**t immediately, I can’t even explain that feeling. It’s like somebody punching you in the face and knocking you out. You don’t really feel that until you wake up, understand?
AllHipHop.com: Was there anybody else in the studio when you got there, when you came in? Randy was gone, but was Lydia and them still there?
Boe: Yeah, Lydia was there. She was on the floor. She was on the floor in the corner screaming and crying.
AllHipHop.com: Mike B rolled out?
Boe: Mike B came back in with me. Me and Mike B came back into the studio together. And the boy Tony Rincon, he was on the couch because he had gotten shot too. So he was on the couch. And the police came by the time I was getting ready to leave.
AllHipHop.com: When the police got there, what did they do, question everybody? Or most people had gone?
Boe: Everybody that was there, they tried to keep them there, except for me. Because one of the police started grabbing on me, so me and the police started fighting at that point. Then they asked me to leave.
AllHipHop.com: When all this was taking place, there was a convention going on in the other room. Do you know about that?
Boe: Yeah, they had like some company called Primerica. I don’t really know what that company does or what, or why they even was in the front room of the studio, but their business was open to everybody. So the only thing you had to do was ring their buzzer and you could come into the building. And that day, the hallway was filled with these people. You know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: So in theory, somebody could’ve seen whoever did it leaving, especially if somebody came in with ski masks?
Boe: Or he could’ve took the ski mask off and walked out, you know what I mean? Amongst the crowd of different people that was already there. I really don’t know. I don’t know how they could’ve done that.
Click here for Part 2. Part’s 3 and 4 are scheduled to run Tuesday.