A Wave Exclusive…Death of A Hip-Hop Legend
A Wave Exclusive...
Death of A Hip-Hop Legend....
Close Friend of Jam Master Jay
Discusses The Murder And The Industry
On Tuesday, November 5, family, friends, and superstars from the music industry came together to say goodbye to a member of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rap groups of all time, Run DMC. Jam Master Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was remembered in a funeral service held at the Allen A.M.E. Church in Jamaica, Queens. Although many turned out to pay tribute to Mizell, Terrence Dixon (aka "Traum" - a hip-hop artist and producer from the Far Rockaway area) decided it was too painful for him to attend. Dixon grew up with Mizell, and consulted with him on a number of hip-hop tracks while working at JMJ24/7 Studios, a recording studio owned by the slain artist.
With many accusations being made about the murder, on the streets and in the media, Dixon decided to take action. He contacted The Wave and allowed us to conduct a no-holds barred exclusive interview to address the murder, the music industry, and the how the genre of hip-hop has been affected.
Wave: We know this is a difficult time for you, and we really appreciate you meeting with us.
Dixon: No problem. I had to do this. I had to do it to honor someone that I considered to be a great man and great leader.
Wave: How did you meet Jam Master Jay?
Dixon: He grew up with my Uncle Kevin in Hollis. He would come by my uncle's house, but I never was formally introduced. One day, my friend Eric Turner, a music producer, asked me if I wanted to go to Jay's music studio, and I jumped at the chance. He introduced me to JMJ, and from that point we collaborated on music tracks. Many of the tracks on my CD made it because of Jay's input.
Wave: What was he like?
Dixon: (takes a deep breath) He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. That's why I'm having a hard time with his death. I can't figure out why it happened, or who would want to kill him. He was so loved, by so many, in the community. Jay took me, and a lot of other people, off the streets and under his wing. He gave people a chance when nobody else would.
Wave: Where were you when you heard that he was killed?
Dixon: Believe it or not, I was heading back to Rockaway from the studio. I was supposed to hook up with him that night to discuss production on some of the music tracks, but the weather was really bad that night. We ended up turning around and coming back to The Rock. I got a phone call shortly after it happened, and I was stunned. I had just talked to him.
Wave: The last time you talked to him, did he give you any indication that he was in danger or had a "beef" with anyone?
Dixon: No, not at all. He was excited about his projects and the stuff we were working on at his studio. Actually, the last conversation we had was about Q-Base, a music program for computers. (Pause) He was just.... Jay.
Wave: What do you think happened the night of the murder?
Dixon: I know one thing. The killer knew Jay. In order to get into the building you have to be buzzed in. If they don't know who you are, you're not getting in. It's that simple. There were reports that he was playing a video game when he got killed. I'm sure he wasn't even looking when the person walked up and shot him in the head.
Wave: Can you think of any motive for his murder?
Dixon: The only motive I can think of is jealousy. He was a good man who was doing good things for poor people in the area. I guess certain people have a problem with that. There was no reason in the world to kill that man.
Wave: You look as though there's something you want to add to what you just said. Come with it.
Dixon: (sullen) I feel in my heart that if he wasn't dealing with the element he was dealing with, this would not have happened.
Wave: What do you mean?
Dixon: You have to understand something. He was taking people off the streets and providing them with a chance to make it. He was dealing with people that most of us would avoid. That area has some very rough and dangerous people in it, but he kept it real and stayed. He could've done what a lot of hip-hop stars do; made the dough and moved to some upscale area. Most artists are not going to give back to the community. He wanted to give back, and he knew that the real talent was based in the community, so that's where he stayed. I think that decision cost him his life.
Wave: The media, and people on the streets, have eluded to the fact that hip-hop artist "50 Cent" may also have been an intended target. They say that for two reasons. One, he was the victim of a shooting in the same studio, two years ago, where JMJ was killed. Two, he refuses to talk to the police, or anyone for that matter, about the murder or his relationship to JMJ. Do you believe there is a link?
Dixon: I won't even speculate on that because it's too deep to get into. I do know that JMJ was producing tracks for 50 Cent, then "Trackmasters" acquired the artist. That was the end of his business relationship with Jay.
Wave: So there no reason to believe there was unfinished business, so to speak, between JMJ and Trackmasters regarding the transaction.
Dixon: None. It was a clean deal.
Wave: A hip-hop summit was held in New Jersey shortly after the killing. At the event, "Chuck D." (of the group Public Enemy) blasted many hip-hop stars and producers for allowing the "gangsta" element to infiltrate the industry and seize control of it, to some extent. Do you think this fact played a role in the murder of JMJ?
Dixon: Again, I don't want to speculate on anything, but I will say this. As a producer, I have been approached by a certain class of people to "front" for them because they can't go legit, for whatever reason. They've offered me big money, but I won't do it.
Wave: So Chuck D. was right?
Dixon: (Pause) The gangsta element is definitely in hip-hop, but this has always been the case with the music industry. This is nothing new. Where do you think the term "payola" came from? It's no secret that the mob has been involved with the industry for years. People are only focusing on the gangsta aspect now because black faces are involved. These kids today are simply emulating the gangsters they watched growing up, the Gambinos, the Gotti's and the Corleone's. They've just taken it to another level.
Wave: You mean the fact that they've adopted names like "Irv Gotti" (whose real name is Irving Lorenzo), "The Murderers" and "Murder, Inc.?"
Dixon: Exactly. What the hell is that? Murder, Inc? Irv Gotti? The Murderers? It's out of control. They see the "Teflon Don" or watch shows like "The Sopranos," and they want to be gangsters. Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier are just as guilty. They glorified the gangster mentality in their "Let's Do It Again" movies, but they are the first to blast hip-hop. That's crazy! These kids are taking the path to "gangsta paradise," and the industry promotes and supports these images. I'm not defending it because it's wrong. However, you always have to look at the root cause.
Wave: So how do you stop it?
Dixon: I think Jay's murder will help stop it. I think this whole situation will change the game of hip-hop. This killing was just too much, and it hit too close to home for too many people. Even my future projects will change. Money is not worth your life.
Wave: Given the fact that your CD is called "Natural Born Killas," I find it interesting that you plan to change your style. Many would argue that a title like that helps to perpetuate the negative elements in hip-hop. Do you agree?
Dixon: Absolutely! That's why I played with the word killers. I figured it would lessen the impact of the word if I changed the "ers" and put "as" at the end of it. That way, it can be regarded as a simple marketing tool. I think it has less impact than using the true version.
Wave: You know I disagree with that.
Dixon: (smiling) I thought you would. I read your column.
Wave: Do you think the person who murdered your friend and partner will ever be caught?
Dixon: I believe it's just a matter of time. I also think that when all is said and done, the police will find that Jay died over something petty. At that point, many people will be even angrier because they will see he died over sheer stupidness. Quite frankly, I'm sure that it was nothing more than street level bullshit.