Friends and collaborators share tributes to the well-loved local nightlife fixture who ran Night People with Eli Escobar.
The well-loved hip-hop and house DJ, real name James Sheffield-Dewees, was a fixture in local nightlife and ran the label Night People with Eli Escobar. The pair put on regular nights at popular New York venues Output and Le Bain and often appeared together on radio stations, including The Lot Radio. Sheffield-Dewees remixed tracks and contributed to compilations as Blue Jemz as well as his given name. He was also a member of Pocket Checkers with Ter Kahn and previously worked at Turntable Lab.
Friends and collaborators of Sheffield-Dewees have been sharing tributes on social media. In a heartfelt Instagram post, Talib Kweli wrote: "What I loved about Jemz was his honesty and sharp wit... He was his own man and he carved an awesome life out of the carcass of old New York. I'm going to miss this wonderful, brilliant man. I would probably not have a career without him." Classixx, Tim Sweeney, LuckyMe, NTS DJ Martelo and Ghostly are also among those sharing their thoughts about the late DJ and producer.
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Today is dedicated to my friend James Sheffield, AKA DJ Blu Jemz. I just landed to find out he passed away. When I was 15 years old at a CT boarding school, I went to Toad’s Place in New Haven to see Ice Cube perform. I was the first person there. The second person there was @blujemz he was 14 at the time. When we found out we both grew up in Park Slope, we became good friends. Many ppl don’t know this but the first line up for Reflection Eternal was Blu Jemz, my friend JuJu and me. Jemz lived in Greenwich Village at the time, he introduced me to @chloessevigny and we became friends. We used to hit up every open mic with @rubix @john_forte and @jeanniegrigio and stay out til 4/5am every night. Jemz also worked at @nkirubooks before I did, he knew the founder, Leothy Miller Owens. I had never met her. When Yasiin and I bought the store, we hired my grandmother Beverly and Jemz, who my grandmother referred to as Jimmy. He got a kick out of that. I watched as Jemz began to develop his DJ career, becoming a NYC party staple. I cheered him on and was always happy to see him working. Every couple of years we would get up to talk and drink. What I loved about Jemz was his honesty and sharp wit. He knew me from way before I was famous and he would always find hilarious ways to take me down a notch or two. He always reminded me of where I was from. He never asked me for shit. He never asked for a favor, help, anything. He was his own man and he carved an awesome life out of the carcass of old New York. I’m going to miss this wonderful, brilliant man. I would probably not have a career without him. If there is an afterlife I know that my grandmother is there calling @blujemz “Jimmy” to his delight right now. Rest In Peace James. We love you . We got it from here.
rip @blujemz— LUCKYME® (@LuckyMe) November 14, 2018
One of the first to get hip to what we were making. You supported LuckyMe bringing our records into the US earlyyy. We’ll always remember you. Thank you 🌱
My heart is fucking broken. Rip my brother @blujemz a truly incredible human being let alone one of the most best djs I’ve ever crossed paths with. Wow. This sucks.— Jesse Marco (@JesseMarco) November 14, 2018
RIP @blujemz heartbreaking to hear this news— Classixx (@Classixx) November 14, 2018
Sad to hear the news of @blujemz passing. In a world of flimsy bullshit you were the realest. An underground legend that shaped so many scenes, brought together so many artists and left everyone in a better place than you found them. We love you forever. Stay laughing.— Mad Decent (@maddecent) November 14, 2018
Just found this from a blog post I made in 2010... “Jemz is one of the funniest dudes out there and a great dj too. If you go to NYC make sure to look him up. But only if you want to feel like your face is going to explode the next day.” RIP Blu Jemz one of the good ones.— Smalltown Pete (@smalltownpete) November 14, 2018
Photo credit: DJ Gravy