Rest In Peace To Hip-Hop Pioneer & Kurtis Blow Affiliate Kool DJ AJ
On Kurtis Blow’s seminal 1984 album Ego Trip, he made a cult-favored jam in “AJ Scratch.” Featuring his crisp scratches and personal story, that song’s namesake, Kool DJ AJ, has passed away. In addition to his longtime role as Blow’s DJ, Kool DJ AJ is known for his work behind the wheels for “Chief Rocka” Busy Bee. A pivotal Manhattan, New York Hip-Hop figure since the 1970s, AJ would retain his post at the turntables into the 2010s.
At this time, the cause of death is not public.
Originally born in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, AJ would spend time in Jacksonville, Florida before relocating to New York City’s South Bronx section in 1975. In a 2006 interview with Troy L. Smith and Tha Foundation, AJ recalled enlisting in the US Army, and being stationed in Georgia. Additionally, the comprehensive interview examines A.J.’s history as a promoter alongside Hip-Hop pioneers DJ Kool Herc and Pete “DJ” Jones, before DJ’ing in his own right under the tutelage of Luvbug Starkski.
Before becoming a fixture with Kurtis Blow, Kool DJ AJ famously helped break the Harlem, New York MC’s records in the scene, notably 1979’s “Christmas Rappin’.” In the same 2006 interview, AJ claimed he wrote one of Blow’s biggest hits, “If I Ruled The World”—a song he said he penned with Busy Bee in mind.
“I wrote it for Busy Bee, but he couldn’t perform it. He couldn’t rock that shit. Somebody hit me up on MySpace and said they remember when we were in the studio with Busy Bee trying to do ‘If I Ruled The World.’ He couldn’t fit it. Or it didn’t fit him! So I took it back. Then I tried to sell it to Run-DMC. Russell [Simmons] kept saying that’s a song for a solo artist. That’s not for two people.” He continued, “I even tried to sell it to [Grandmaster] Melle Mel. (Sugar Hill Records CEO) Sylvia Robinson said no, she didn’t want to give me any money.” The song would gain new recognition in the mid-1990s, when Nas re-purposed its chorus and structure in a It Was Written hit of his own.
In that same interview, he explained getting down with Hip-Hop’s first gold album-maker, Kurtis Blow. “I met him through Russell Simmons. I broke up with this girl and it hit me hard so I started using [drugs] big time, and one of the spots I used to hang out at was the Disco Fever. I used to be a member of that back room. Russell was back there one night doing his thing. He was like, ‘Kurtis Blow is looking for a DJ and he is about to go on tour with Rick James to Europe.’ By this time Kurtis Blow is touring with people like James Brown, Bob Marley, Commodores, Kool & The Gang, so Russell is telling me he needs a DJ with a name. He said, ‘AJ, you would fit right in.'” AJ and Blow would remain a fixture together throughout the early and mid-1980s.
Kurtis Blow and Russell Simmons are among those who publicly mourned AJ’s death.
RIP to my DJ and friend Kool DJ AJ!!!!
— Kurtis Blow (@KurtisBlow1) September 9, 2015
DJ AJ a great pioneer in the rap game has passed away to today. Amazing sweet spirited human being. God accept him into greater service — Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) September 9, 2015
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family and friends of Kool DJ AJ, as well as Kurtis Blow, Busy Bee, and the mixmaster’s fans.