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DJ Kay Slay Dead at 55, Following Prolonged Battle With Covid 19

Instagram @djkayslay
Easter Sunday, the legendary graffiti artist and hip-hop icon, DJ Kay Slay, died following a prolonged battle with Covid 19.

The native New Yorker, born Keith Grayson, was 55. Grayson had been battling the disease for four months. 

He was hospitalized in December and, reportedly, placed on a ventilator.

At the time, his brother Kwame Grayson disputed those reports, telling HipHopDX, “It was a machine that was helping him breathe, but it was not a ventilator. I don’t know where they get this information."

First reported by his longtime friend and collaborator, hip-hop promoter Van Silk, his death was confirmed by his family in a touching tribute posted by New York radio station Hot 97, where his show the "Drama Hour" was a staple of the station's lineup for over 20 years.

“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” the family wrote of Grayson who was also known as The Drama King and Dezzy Dez. “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.”

It continued, “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.”

“Hip Hop lost a real gem,” Silk told HipHopDx. “My dear brother is gone. I’ve known him since he was 16 years old. He was my little brother...

“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.”

Born in August 14, 1966 in East Harlem, Grayson began his career as a graffiti artist. He performed hip-hop in his spare time.

He revealed to Forbes in a 2019 interview that he never had intentions of it being more than a hobby.

 “It was just something to do that was fun and that I enjoyed doing," he said.

He has already gained a reputation as a prominent graffit artist when an appearance in the iconic hip-hop documentary "Style Wars," in 1983, cemented his place in hip-hop's zeitgeist.

He earned the moniker "Drama King" for being the go-between and referee of epic MC battles on his "Streetsweeper" series of mixtapes.

His debut album "The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1" dropped in 2003, and he went on to release five studio albums, 27 mixtapes and a joint album with DJ Greg Street.

Hot 97 posted its own tribute to Grayson on social media following the news.

"Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay," the statment read. "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."

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