DJ Jazzy Jay
DJ Jazzy Jay

Birth name

John M. Byas

Also known as

The Original Jazzy Jay


18 November 1961 (age 54)

  • Beaufort, South Carolina, United States


Hip hop


DJ, record producer

Associated acts

Afrika Bambaataa, Afrika Islam, Diamond D, Kool DJ Red Alert, Jazzy Five, T La Rock, Universal Zulu Nation

 John M. Byas (born 17 November 1961), better known by his stage name DJ Jazzy Jay, is an American hip hop DJ and producer. He has collected roughly 400,000 records during a career spanning nearly forty years.

Jazzy Jay was born in coastal South Carolina, before his family moved to New York City at a young age. He learnt how to play the drums as a child, before discovering hip hop music in the 1970s. An early member of Afrika Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation, he was a protégé of Bambaataa and his older cousin Kool DJ Red Alert. Beginning as a Zulu King dancer in the early 1970s, Jay later became a Universal Zulu Nation DJ and was a member of the group Jazzy Five, with which he recorded the single "Jazzy Sensation". 

Although Jazzy Jay began performing primarily at street parties, in the 1980s he began DJing in New York clubs such as Negril, the Roxy, the Ritz and Danceteria. He hosted a hip hop radio program on KISS FM, and he also made an appearance in the 1984 film Beat Street as a DJ at The Roxy. That same year, Jay met Rick Rubin and assisted him in laying the foundation for what would become Def Jam Recordings. The label's first official single was "It's Yours" by T La Rock and Jazzy Jay. Jay later introduced Rubin to Russell Simmons, creating one of the most important partnerships in hip hop production. 

In 1986, he participated in Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force's album Planet Rock: The Album, which was certified gold. Jay founded Jazzy Jay's Studio in the Bronx, where he produced early recordings by Diamond D, Fat Joe, Brand Nubian, and A Tribe Called Quest, among others.

In 2001, he was featured in the turntablism documentary Scratch, where he displays his extensive record collection. 


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