Hip Hop is still mourning the death of legendary DJ/graffiti writer DJ Kay Slay (real name Keith Grayson), who passed away on Sunday (April 17) after a four-month battle with COVID-19. As tributes continue to pour in on social media, the Grayson family has released an official statement regarding Kay Slay’s death.
“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” the statement reads. “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 — commonly known as Drama King — was born in New York City and discovered his passion for graffiti art, writing “Dez” all over the city as part of the TFP (The Fantastic Partners) crew. In 1983, he was featured alongside his then-partner TRAP in cult classic film Style Wars.
DJ Kay Slay aka Dez, the legendary graffiti artist turned prolific DJ, reportedly passed away this evening.
He's been an active, vital part of Hip Hop for nearly 40 years. pic.twitter.com/5rQHwgkyFs
— Ruben || Check the Rhyme (@checktherhyme1_) April 18, 2022
DJ Kay Slay then pivoted to refereeing the biggest MC battles on his Streetsweeper mixtapes before signing his first deal with Violator Records. He dropped Street Sweepers Volumes 1 & 2 through Columbia/Sony Records only to become head of A&R for Shaquille O’Neal’s label DEJA34 in 2004 where he released his third album, The Champions.
A year later, he signed Papoose and soon co-founded Straight Stuntin’ Magazine. For over 20 years, he hosted a radio show on Hot 97 every Friday called “The Drama Hour.” Naturally, his Hot 97 family is heartbroken by his death.
“Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay,” the station said in 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. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fans worldwide and we will always and forever celebrate The Drama King’s legacy.”
HipHopDX confirmed DJ Kay Slay’s passing late Sunday night with veteran Hip Hop promoter Van Silk, who was also a close friend of his.
“Hip Hop lost a real gem,” Silk told 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 in December because we were finishing up the ‘200 Rolling Deep’ project. He was gonna do his video part with MC Sha-Rock.
“From the mixtapes to helping him launch Straight Stuntin‘ magazine and the whole What The Science project, the world not only lost a real dedicated person to the culture of Hip Hop but a source of bridging the gap in Hip Hop. I’m gonna miss my little brother.”