DJ Kay Slay, Beloved Hip Hop Icon, Dies of COVID-19


DJ Kay Slay, a hip hop influencer and graffiti artist who worked with a number of top artist over the years, died Sunday from COVID-19 complications.


He was 55 years old.


The passing of Slay (whose real name was Keith Grayson) was confirmed a short while ago by his family in a statement released through New York radio station HOT 97, where he hosted “The Drama Hour” for more than two decades.


“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” the bereaved loved ones wrote in their touching tribute, adding:


“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.”

DJ Kay Slay Picture


DJ Kay Slay was hospitalized in December with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator not long afterward.


He was born on August 14, 1966 in New York City and began his career as a graffiti artist, performing hip-hop in his spare time.


During this period, Slay was notably featured in the 1983 hip-hop documentary “Style Wars.”


In 2003, Slay released his flagship album “The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1,” taking his DJ career to new and impressive heights in the process.

dj slay


The prolific rapper would go on to create five more studio albums:


  1. The Streetsweeper, Vol. 2

  2. More Than Just a DJ

  3. The Big Brother

  4. Hip Hop Frontline

  5. The Soul Controller


In his final Instagram post in January, Grayson promoted the single “In My Soul,” which he collaborated on with artists Tre Williams, Papoose and AZ.

kay slay


“Hip Hop lost a real gem,” rap promoter Van Silk, who initially reported the rapper’s passing, told Hip-Hop DX.


“My dear brother is gone. I’ve known him since he was 16 years old. He was my little brother.


“I introduced him to many and we did a lot of things together. We last talked December because we were finishing up the 200 rolling deep project.


“He was gonna do his video part with MC Sha-Rock.”

DJ Kay Slay snapshot


Back in December, DJ Kay Slay penned an Instagram post about the state of his world.


“Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy,” he wrote back then.


“Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder.


Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder. Easy has a cost…


“To every positive there will always be negative not far behind! But it’s never fully about the problem at hand, it’s about the way you react each situation.”


We send our condolences to the friends, family members and loved ones of DJ Kay Slay.


May he rest in peace.

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