TJ Mizell is a DJ. You probably haven't heard of him. But you have heard of his father, Jason Mizell. He went by the name Jam Master Jay and was one-third of one of the most important hip-hop acts of all time, Run-D.M.C.
You might expect a descendent of rap royalty in his mid-20s to have a sense of entitlement. But over the phone, Mizell comes across as humble, enthusiastic, and eager to prove his own abilities at the turntables. He's also savvy enough not to let pride get in the way of the opportunities his father's legacy have opened for him.
"The last ten Run-D.M.C. shows, my brother and I have been given the chance to showcase our skills. It's been crazy to think my dad was in this position 30 years ago," says Mizell, whose father tragically died in 2002 after being shot in a recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Mizell's intro to music came quickly. "When I was 6, they got me a Casio keyboard, and I'd learn to play music I heard on the radio by ear." In third grade, he signed up to learn violin, and in middle school, he developed an obsession with the drums.
But now all of his concentration is on DJ'ing, which is gaining him notoriety.
Mizell is eager to put some of his skills on display this Saturday at the Clevelander, where he'll open for DJ Craze and Ape Drums. "I've been looking up to Craze and Ape Drums for years," he says. "I'm going to bring a wild assortment of a lot of bass-heavy, hip-hop-influenced electronic music."
If you like what you hear from Mizell, you'll soon have the option of seeing a lot more of him. This January, he'll star in a new WE TV reality series, Growing Up Hip Hop. It will feature, among others, the children of Master P, Rev Run, and Naughty by Nature's Treach and Sandra Denton (AKA Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa).
"That was fun — having to be aware of the cameras and seeing how the business works. Being around these other kids, I realized it's not just me going through these things in the music industry."
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Next week, he'll get his first chance to see the footage a month before it airs, and there's one scene he's particularly excited to watch. It doesn't involve having
Corona Presents: Electric Beach With TJ Mizell, DJ Craze, and Ape Drums 3 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at the Clevelander, 1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-532-4006; clevelander.com. Admission is free with RSVP via firstname.lastname@example.org. Ages 21 and up.