Hip Hop is mourning the loss of legendary New York City DJ and graffiti writer DJ Kay Slay, who passed away on Easter Sunday (April 17) following a months-long battle with COVID-19. He was 55 years old.
As the tragic news continues to circulate, several Hip Hop figures have taken to social media to pay their respects to the Drama King, who established himself as a giant of New York’s rap scene through his early graffiti days under the alias “Dez,” his radio shows on Hot 97 and Shade45 and scores of street-sweeping albums and mixtapes.
Fat Joe — one of Kay Slay’s closest collaborators — posted a heartfelt message on Instagram early Monday (April 18), mourning the loss of a legend while thanking the DJ for always looking out for him.
“Dezzy Dez aka Kay Slay aka The Black Fat Joe love you my brother,” Joe wrote while sharing a photo of a young Kay Slay. “You put on for the culture kept me on your tapes when i was cold always lead from your heart. I was praying hard for you i knew you’d make it i check almost everyday i had soooooo many stories to tell you since you been at the hospital.
“My brothers we lost a General today a Pilar of our community we will hold this man in the highest regards for he is an iconn when it comes to this culture RIP SLAY we love you we’ll keep your name alive as long as I’m here GOD BLESS Harlem east side stand the fuck up.”
DJ Kay Slay’s passing has been felt across the generations of New York Hip Hop, with LL COOL J, 50 Cent, Sheek Louch, Maino, Benny The Butcher and Bobby Shmurda among those also paying their respects.
“Such a real one. So solid. Rest in power King. I’m gonna miss you B. #ripdjkayslay,” LL wrote on Instagram, while Louch added, “I prayed that no news was good news.. and that you would pull threw ! Smh THE WORLD and HIPHOP is gonna miss you..REST UP KING.”
The shock waves of Kay Slay’s death also reverberated down south, with Atlanta heavyweight Killer Mike and Memphis pioneer DJ Paul (of Three 6 Mafia) paying tribute to the legendary New York DJ. After all, the Streetsweeper regularly reached across state borders throughout his decorated career.
“I truly loved and respected u and let u know it,” Mike wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post. “From dropping freestyles in that small spot u had in the hood 20 yrs ago to watching u stand on studio tables dropping more rhymes at your request till last December sending a verse u asked for.
“U were a brother and ally to Southern emcees and being of the culture and from the Mecca of Hip Hop u served as an ambassador that took good will for the culture everywhere u went. U were a warrior and diplomat all in one. U took no shit and gave respect. U helped me become even more in love with this thing called Hip Hop. I am thankful to God to have known u. Love and Respect. Rest Well.”
DJ Kay Slay was hospitalized in December 2021 due to COVID-19. As his brother Kwame Grayson told HipHopDX in January, Kay Slay was “slowly fading away” and “was on a machine that was helping him breathe because he couldn’t breathe.”
However, Grayson remained confident that his brother would make a full recovery. “He’s not going to die,” he said. “They’re going to move him to a private hospital, hopefully a joint where everybody can come visit him. But he’s not gonna die. That’s not in the cards. He’s in a recovery state. He’s getting stronger. He’s gonna be alright.”
Just last week, Wack 100 revealed Kay Slay was still in the hospital four months later, but the fact he had been taken off the respiratory machine offered signs of hope. Grayson confirmed to DX via text that his brother was doing “OK,” although he didn’t provide any further details.
Check out more reactions to DJ Kay Slay’s passing from Snoop Dogg, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, The Alchemist, DJ Kid Capri and many more below. DX sends its condolences to Kay Slay’s family and friends.
R.I.P. ?? ???@kingdjkayslay
— DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) April 18, 2022
— Crime Rhyme Houdini (@JustBlaze) April 18, 2022
Damn. Rest in peace my man the drama king DJ K Slay. Big loss for NYC and hip hop . ??
— Alchemist Type Beat (@Alchemist) April 18, 2022
RIP to the DRAMA KING ??????
— BENNY THE BUTCHER (@BennyBsf) April 18, 2022