DJ Kay Slay, hip hop pioneer, dies aged 55
He was known for working with the likes of Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes
New York DJ and radio executive DJ Kay Slay died April 17 aged 55 after “a four-month battle with COVID-19,” according to his family.
DJ Kay Slay whose real name was Keith Grayson was known throughout the hip hop industry which saw him work alongside Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes.
On Sunday, family announced the news of Grayson’s death via a statement on the New York radio station Hot 97, which is where he hosted his show ‘The Drama Hour’ for over two decades.
“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” the statement from Grayson’s family reads. “A dominant figure in Hip Hop culture with millions of fans worldwide, DJ Kay Slay will be remembered for his passion and excellence with a legacy that will transcend generations. In memory of DJ Kay Slay, our family wishes to thank all of his friends, fans, and supporters for their prayers and well wishes during this difficult time. We ask that you respect our privacy as we grieve this tragic loss.”
“Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay,” the station said in a statement.
Growing up in Harlem, Grayson was surrounded by the Hip Hop scene and made his way into it as a teenager via the art of graffiti.
After his graffiti featuring in the 1983 hip-hop documentary Style Wars he went on to selling bootleg mixtapes in the early 90s before releasing his first studio album, ‘The Streetsweeper, Vol 1’ in May 2003.
This debut album included his highest-charting single, ‘Too Much for Me’ which featured Amerie, Birdman, Nas, and Foxy Brown.
After this, in 2004 he went on to release ‘The Streetsweeper, Vol. 2’ that had the Three 6 Mafia single Who Gives A... Where You From’ as well as the Kanye West–produced track No Problems’.
“I didn’t so much set out to be a DJ,” he told Forbes in 2019 adding that it “was just something to do that was fun and that I enjoyed doing.”
Hot 97 station have announced DJ Kay Slay's public memorial service to be held on April 24th, at the Apollo Theater, East Harlem.
Many fans and artists have paid tribute to the late DJ Kay Slay. Read some of their words below.
They showed Dj kay slay love on TNT that’s 🔥🔥🔥— JADAKISS (@Therealkiss) April 20, 2022
Rest in eternal peace to DEZ AKA DJ Kay Slay AKA The Drama King— Dart_Adams (@Dart_Adams) April 18, 2022
This is a sad day for Hip Hop culture & Rap fans the world over.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter