Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and Joseph “DJ Run” Simmons of the legendary band Run-D.M.C. said Sunday’s ceremony to officially rename the corner of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue “RUN DMC JMJ Way” was more than about just honoring the world-famous musicians who got their start in Hollis.
For the two music stars, the event symbolized the power of hip-hop music.
“This day happened because of hip-hop,” McDaniels told hundreds of cheering fans. “Hip-hop changed the world.”
Simmons said the civil rights movement spawned hip-hop, saying the genre Run-D.M.C. helped to pioneer has allowed a countless number of individuals to not only succeed but to point out racial injustices and other of the world’s inequities with music.
“This day is bigger than D.M.C.,” Simmons said. “This is about God giving us an ability to express ourselves through hip-hop.”
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) helped to host Sunday’s street renaming ceremony, which was attended by state Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Connie Mizell-Perry, mother of Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, the third Run-D.M.C. member who was murdered in Jamaica in 2002. The event was emceed by Power 105 radio personality Ed Lover.
“This day is about respect for people who created a legacy that’s international,” Comrie said.
Smith encouraged the children in the audience to dream big every time they saw the new “RUN DMC JMJ Way” sign.
“What this sign says is you can be anyone you want to be,” Smith said. “You can be Barack Obama, you can be DMC, you can be Leroy Comrie, you just have to put your mind to it.”
Wearing a Jam Master Jay T-shirt and with tears shining in her eyes, Mizell-Perry urged Sunday’s attendees to do what she had always advised her son, whose murder has not been solved.
“I always told Jason to do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Mizell-Perry said. “… You can’t carry grudges around in your heart.”
McDaniels and Simmons reminisced about growing up in Queens and spoke fondly of their numerous band practices at Mizell’s Hollis home. The three spent much of their childhood in Hollis and Run-D.M.C. is known for immortalizing the area as the birthplace of hip-hop.
“The thing that touches me the most is it feels like yesterday to me that I was living here,” Simmons said. “… We would always be practicing and rapping right there in Jay’s living room. If it got late, we could spend the night at Jay’s house.”
Run-D.M.C. was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April after an incredibly successful 25-year career including seven albums and countless hit singles that many credit with paving the way for rap music to become the multibillion-dollar industry it is today.
Comrie said he helped to choose the 205th Street location for the renaming because of its proximity to the Hollis Hip Hop Museum, located in the Hollis Famous Burger restaurant that is owned by music executive Orville Hall. The site also is near the famous mural of Mizell on 205th street. Local artists created the painting, which depicts Mizell posing, following the beloved musician’s death.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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