Hip-Hop Icon DJ Kay Slay Dies After Months-Long Battle with COVID

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

DJ Kay Slay, hip-hop artist and disc jockey from New York City, passed away on April 17 at the age of 55. Slay’s death was confirmed by a radio station in his hometown, Hot 97, on a show called The Drama Hour.

Slay, born Keith Grayson, had been battling a tough case of Coronavirus in the months leading up to his death. The DJ’s friend and fellow artist, Wack 100, posted an update on the Slay’s condition in January of this year. The social media post shed some light on the severity of Slay’s condition.

“Pray for my brotha @djkayslay,” the post reads. “It’s not looking good. 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.”

Slay was taken off of the ventilator, but was “still fighting” according to Wack 100. The DJ eventually succumbed to the lasting effects of the virus.

Over the course of his career, Slay developed a reputation as an authentic player on the hip-hop scene. He was dubbed “The Drama King” and then “Hip-Hop’s One-Man Ministry of Insults” by The New York Times for his ability to use music’s most-talked-about beefs as musical content. His debut album, The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1 dropped in 2003 and included his most commercially successful single “Too Much for Me,” which featured artists Amerie, Birdman, Nas, and Foxy Brown. His follow-up LP, The Streetsweeper, Vol. 2, included a Three 6 Mafia collaboration and a Kanye West-produced track.

Slay also worked with Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, T-Pain, Nelly, Juicy J, 2 Chainz, DJ Khaled, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, and Mac Miller throughout his career. The artist was also one of New York City’s biggest graffiti artists at one point in time, using the tag “Dez.”

After his death, his family released this statement via Hot 97: “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.”

Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

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