DJ Kay Slay has died after a battle with COVID-19.
The iconic New York DJ, whose real name was Keith Grayson, passed away Sunday evening (April 17), four months after contracting the deadly virus. He was 55.
“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
Hot 97, the New York radio station where Kay Slay worked for over two decades hosting his “Drama Hour” radio show, also mourned the tragic loss. “Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay,” read a statement. “We cherish the many memories created through the twenty-plus years he dedicated to the ‘Drama Hour.’ A cultural icon, Kay Slay was more than just a DJ, to us he was family and a vital part of what made Hot 97 the successful station it is today.”
Kay Slay, also known as the “Drama King,” was a fixture in hip-hop with his Streetsweeper series, which started in 2003 and featured artists including Nas, 50 Cent, Foxy Brown, and Eminem. In December, he released his final album, The Soul Controller, featuring Snoop Dogg, The Game, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, and Too $hort.
Back in January, it was reported that Kay Slay was hospitalized for the coronavirus and was placed on a ventilator.
The hip-hop community honored him with heartfelt tributes on social media. “Rest In Peace K slay God bless you,” wrote 50 Cent, while Snoop added, “Thank. U. @djkayslay for being u god bless ya soul. say hi to my mama.”
T.I. acknowledged the Drama King’s impact on his career. “Rest Easy Big Dog!!! A true pioneer & architect of the culture,” he said. “The 1st DJ in NY to let me freestyle on his mixtape & welcome me to the city. Glad we had a chance to chop it up & kick it over the phone again last December. Was always honored to spit for you. Love & Respect King.”