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EDITIONS
Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 15:13 GMT
Violence and hip-hop
Jam Master Jay's body is taken away
Jam Master Jay's death is the subject of speculation
The shooting of Jam Master Jay inside his New York City studio leaves the world of hip-hop mourning another violent gun death.

Police say it is too early to speculate on a motive for the killing, or whether there is any connection with the DJ's status as a famous hip-hop artist.


There is a tendency to demonise hip-hop, but you can't blame the music for something like this

Angus Batey
Unlike some other rap acts who appeared to glory in the imagery of gang warfare, nothing in Jam Master Jay's past linked him to thuggery.

As newer generations of rappers turned to vulgar or violent themes, Run-DMC were more likely to be talking about eating chickens or going to college.

Conclusions

Jam Master Jay - real name Jason Mizell - and his group pre-dated the guns-'n'-gangstas image of later artists, favouring a folksy lyrical style and an innocent charm in their fedoras and Adidas trainers.

Hip-hop critic and writer Angus Batey said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions about Mizell's death.

Mario
Mario "Suge" Knight was in a gang fight
"There is a tendency to demonise hip-hop, but you can't blame the music for something like this," he said.

"People get killed in altercations all the time. If anything, the image he cultivated suggested he would die an old man in his bed."

Angus described Mizell's death as "a tragedy".

Hitmen

"He was a big part of one of the most important groups in the history of rap music," he said.

Gang violence has marred the image of hip-hop since the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur in 1996 and Notorious BIG - aka Christopher Wallace - the following year.

One of the first rapper killing was in November 1995 and was the drive-by shooting of Randy "Stretch" Walker, a rapper who had toured with Tupac Shakur.

In February 1999, rising rap star Big L (Lamont Coleman) died after being shot nine time while walking in his neighbourhood.

The following month, rapper Freaky Tah (Raymond Rogers), a member of the Lost Boyz, was shot execution style outside a hotel in the New York borough of Queens.

The Los Angeles Times recently claimed that Shakur's "rival" Wallace gave hitmen a gun and paid them $1m (638,000) to carry out the killing.

Jam Master Jay
Jam Master Jay did nothing to promote violence
Wallace's family angrily denied the report, calling it "patently false" and "irresponsible".

There has always been speculation that Shakur, from the west coast of the US, died because of his rivalry with Wallace, based on the east coast.

Shakur's record label boss Marion "Suge" Knight was jailed following his involvement in a fight with a rival gang just hours before Shakur died.

Knight was freed in April last year after serving half of a nine-year prison sentence for a probation violation.

In March last year, Sean "Puffy" Combs - now known as P Diddy - was cleared of gun charges following a shooting at a New York club which left three injured.



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