A funeral cortege of white stretch limousines and luxury SUVs was lined up outside the Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in the rapper's native Queens. Inside, bandmates Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniel eulogized their friend, whose real name was Jason "Jay" Mizell, as a great man and groundbreaking musical force.
"Jason helped build hip-hop, and his job is finished," said Joseph Simmons, now an ordained minister, wearing a broad-brimmed black hat and clerical collar. "He just couldn't leave without drama."
The funeral came six days after Mizell was shot to death in his Queens recording studio by a masked assailant. No one has been charged.
A who's who of hip-hop attended the service. LL Cool J, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Queen Latifah and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, the brother of Joseph Simmons, were among the mourners. Many in the church and among the crowd outside wore the white Adidas and black leather that Run-DMC turned into a fashion trend in the 1980s.
As DJ for the pioneering group, Jam Master Jay had worked the turntables as Simmons and McDaniels rapped a string of hits over nearly 20 years.
McDaniels brought the overflow crowd of 2,300 to its feet with his eulogy, getting in a dig at anyone who would call the slaying just another example of rap violence.
"Jam Master Jay was not a thug," McDaniels said. "Jam Master Jay was not a gangster. Jam Master Jay was a unique individual. ... He was the embodiment of hip-hop."
Surrounded by more than a dozen funeral wreaths — including one in the shape of twin turntables — McDaniels then rapped from the band's song "Jam Master Jay," with the audience joining in at the end to shout out the slain DJ's name.
A heavy police presence included officers on surrounding rooftops.
Elsewhere, police continued to search for the man who put a single bullet in the 37-year-old Mizell's head last Wednesday.
Mizell was married with three children, and had campaigned against drug use. He was a role model for many in the neighborhood where he grew up and met Simmons and McDaniels, and his violent death puzzled family and friends.
"Let's try to work for the good that Jay was working toward," said McDaniels. "Peace for everybody."
Among the group's hits were a collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of "Walk This Way"; "It's Tricky"; and the sneaker homage "My Adidas."
Mizell's body had been brought to the church in a white, horse-drawn carriage encased in glass.
After the 90-minute service, it was taken for burial at a Westchester County cemetery.