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A Sad Day in Hollis

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He has a little soul to rock n' roll
Every record that he touches turns to gold
He's well conducted, self-instructed
His styles were plied, heavily constructed

Mechanically inclined, and if you don't mind
We add spice to your life, time after time
And think about times, where he's a long laster
We rock our rhymes for the Jam-Master


(Run-DMC)

This is a column that's predicated on the daily fluctuations of the stock market, but it also serves as a vehicle of perspective. Unfortunately, in the World we live in, there are many situations that make us take a step back and reflect on what it's all about. This morning, as I walked into my office and powered up my system, my brother Adam pinged me on IM with and said "Can you believe it?" I didn't know what he was talking about at first but, a few seconds later, I did. Last night, Jason Mizell, better known as Jam Master Jay of the rap group Run-DMC, was shot in the head and killed in a Queens recording studio. He was 37 years old.

Longtime readers of my column know how big a fan I am of this group. Growing up a few miles from their hometown, I was 14 years old when they cut their first single, "It's Like That," and I was immediately hooked. As their popularity grew, I followed their path and the evolution of their music with great interest. I know it may seem strange that rap music would resonate so strongly with a Jewish kid from Great Neck, but there was always something special about this group. Not only did they rock the house with a fantastic beat, they did it with style, class, creativity and vision. They were, in short, The Beatles of rap music.

A few years ago, I was honored by United Cerebral Palsy at a charity benefit in New York City. Some friends of mine work in the music industry and called the group to ask them if they would perform. We were surely willing to pay them for their time-our concern was whether they could fit this small event into their busy tour schedule. Not only did they play and completely blow away the audience, they wouldn't take any money for their efforts. Further, they were among the first people to arrive at the event and spent the entire evening supporting this most worthy cause.

There are many misconceptions about rap music, but Jay and the rest of Run-DMC never took part in gansta lyrics or thug personas. They were, quite simply, cut from a different cloth and maintained honor and dignity in the face of temptation. I've had the good fortune of meeting these guys and I can tell you, first hand, that they're the real deal. We lost a good man and special talent last night, but his spirit will shine every time we hear his music.

Rest easy, Jay, your beat lives on.
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