Hip-hop pioneer Dj Kay Slay has lost his ongoing battle with Covid-19. He was 55-years-old.
The cultural icon, born Keith Grayson, was known for popularizing hip-hop mixtapes, shifting the entire culture of the genre, and helping to introduce artists well before they managed to land a record deal — before social media came into play.
“Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay,” said the family in an official statement. “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.”
According to Fader, DJ Kay Slay released more than 500 bootleg mixtapes throughout the course of his career. He is said to have begun selling the tapes on street corners in the West Village neighborhood in New York starting in 1993. It is said that the tapes featured artists that include big names like Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, and a host of others.
His first project, “The Streetsweeper, Vol.1”, was released in 2003.
Furthermore, DJ Kay Slay was also known for his Drama Hour on New York’s iconic hip-hop station, Hot 97.
“Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay,” said a representative for the station. “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.”
Reports that DJ Kay Slay was hospitalized with Covid-19 first began in January. At the time, his bother Kwame Grayson told HipHopDX that he was “in a recovery state” but “getting stronger.”
The family requests privacy as they mourn the loss of their loved one.
“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,” the statement continued. “We ask that you respect our privacy as we grieve this tragic loss.”