NEW YORK — A young R&B singer auditioning at Jam Master Jay’s music studio described how her appointment with fame ended in horror — her songs interrupted by the gunshots that ended the Run-DMC star’s life.
Wearing a tartan plaid bodysuit and her blonde dreadlocks tied in a bun atop her head, Yarrah Concepcion wept Thursday as she described how she and Jay’s friend Uriel Rincon tried to check the fallen DJ for a pulse after the fatal shooting.
“When his arm moved, his brains — I’m sorry, I can’t talk about stuff like this. His brain stuff came out of his head,” she said. “I just started dry-heaving … I just had to see if he was alive. I knew he was gone.”
Concepcion took the stand Thursday at the Brooklyn Federal Court murder trial of Karl “Little D” Jordan Jr. and Ronald “Tinard” Washington, who are accused of murdering Mizell because he cut them out of a drug deal.
She was 18 when she and her brother took a long train ride to Queens on Oct. 30, 2002 for an appointment at the DJ’s music studio on Merrick Blvd. in Hollis, she said.
Her brother headed off to Jamaica, and she was buzzed upstairs sometime before 7:30 p.m., where she saw Jay, born Jason Mizell, sitting on a couch playing video games — with a gun visible on the armrest.
“The first thing that came to mind was, oh I guess this is just the music lifestyle that they live,” she said.
Concepcion told the jury about her brief talk with Mizell, who asked why she was there. When she mentioned her appointment, he said he didn’t have time to see her.
She insisted that she wouldn’t leave after a long trip without someone hearing her music, and a moment later, rapper Michael “Mike B” Rapley stepped out of the control room and told her to enter. Randy Allen, Mizell’s close friend and business partner, was also in the room.
She gave Rapley her demo tape and started singing — and as she was belting out her second song, chaos unfolded.
Concepcion said she was startled by the control room door slamming, and when she heard two shots, she panicked, while Rapley grabbed a gun and Allen stared at a computer monitor, trying to figure out what was happening on his security camera feed.
Rapley, who testified later Thursday, said he didn’t have a gun, and he didn’t make out who he saw on the security cameras in the control room.
“I became frantic a little. Well, not a little, a lot,” Concepcion said.
Her thoughts rushed to her 1-year-old son, and she tried to kick out a wall air conditioner to escape, but it was too heavy and bolted to the wall. So she pulled out a couch and hid behind it until she thought it was safe.
“I was still inside of the control room, holding my heart, and I could smell the gun smoke,” she said. She stepped out cautiously and saw Rincon, who she described as “the light-skinned, tall kid,” screaming, “I got shot! I got shot in the leg!”
She asked him, “You got shot in your leg, but where did Jay get shot?”
She and Rincon moved Mizell’s arm, but didn’t need to check his pulse. It was clear from the gore he was dead.
The jury also heard from Mizell’s cousin Stephon Watford, who said the night before Mizell’s killing he had returned from Milwaukee, where he helped rap superstar 50 Cent sign with Dr. Dre’s music label.
“His main concern was the blessing of 50 Cent. He was so happy about 50 Cent getting signed with Dr. Dre. We laughed. We cried. It meant so much to him,” said the barrel-chested, deep-voiced Watford, who wore a white fur-lined leather jacket.
Watford talked about how he grew up with Mizell, how Mizell “took me on the journey with him” as Run-DMC became famous. And he testified about knowing Jordan and Washington.
Watford was staying at Mizell’s sister’s house in Hollis with two other relatives. Washington was crashing on the couch there, he said.
The night of the shooting, the house got a phone call and Mizell’s sister, Bonita Jones, picked up, he said.
“She fell to the floor, and I grabbed the phone to see what was going on, and that’s how I learned that Jay was killed,” he said.
He ran outside to find Jordan’s father, “Big D,” in a car outside, and they rushed to the studio, “100 miles an hour,” he said.
But the yellow crime scene tape was already up. “I walked up to one of the detectives, and they just confirmed to me he was demised.”
He returned to Mizell’s sister’s house, and Washington came in later, with a bottle of Hennessy, which he put on a table.
“Don’t throw that bottle away, because this was the last bottle that Jay drunk out of,” Washington said, according to Watford.
When asked about Washington’s demeanor, Watford explained, “He didn’t care.”