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DJ Kay Slay Dies After COVID-19 Related Complications At 55

The hip hop legend passed away on Easter Sunday.

It is with a heavy heart and sad news to share that legendary graffiti artist and hip hop icon, Keith Grayson, better known as DJ Kay Slay has succumbed to medical complications associated with a lengthy battle against COVID-19.

Born in East Harlem and forever representing the area he called home, Kay Slay, who passed away on Easter Sunday, was only 55-years-old at the time of his death. Wack 100, the older brother to rapper The Game, reportedly confirmed the news, along with veteran hip hop promoter Van Silk.

The Grayson family has also issued a statement saying, "Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay. 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."

In January, BET.com reported that the Streetsweepers founder had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since Dec. 2021 and that he had been put on a ventilator to help assist with his breathing.

“Pray for my brotha @djkayslay It’s not looking good,” Wack wrote in a post on Instagram. “He might be mad at me for this, those that know Slay but he needs all the support he can get … Been 14 days fighting Covid and he’s just [been] put on a ventilator . Keep him in your prayers Please. [sic]”

A week before, Wack shared an update about Kay Slay’s condition, writing that the DJ was “still fighting” in a post on Instagram. “He’s been off the #ECMO machine for a couple weeks now,” Wack added. “Let’s continue our prayers as our brother continues to fight.”

It goes without saying just how integral Kay Slay was to hip hop and the rap community. After using art to express his voice, he built up his rep as a graffiti artist, using the tag name “Dez,” before introducing his Kay Slay moniker as a sought after DJ on the mixtape circuit. He ruled the late ‘90s and early aughts alongside others like DJ Clue and Greg Street, eventually signing a record deal with Columbia Records.

RELATED: DJ Kay Slay COVID Update: Brother Says “He’s gonna live”

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Also known as “Mr. Smack Your Favorite DJ” and “The Drama King,” his major label debut, The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1, which came out in 2003, peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The Streetsweeper, Vol. 2, dropped the following year and reached No. 10 on that chart. Over the course of his career, he released six studio albums, the most recent being The Soul Controller, which came out in Dec. 2021, shortly before his hospitalization.

Hot 97 also issued a statement on his passing saying, “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. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fans worldwide and we will always and forever celebrate The Drama King's legacy."

His passing follows a host of others in the hip hop community who have left us due to health issues. BET.com expresses our sincerest condolences to the Grayson family, friends, and fans of the late, great DJ Kay Slay.


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