Hip-hop veteran DJ Kay Slay died Sunday evening after fighting COVID-19 for four months in the hospital.
Slay, whose real name is Keith Grayson, was a staple of the hip-hop community. He started as a graffiti artist under the tag name “Dez” before transitioning into a DJ and adopting the stage name Kay Slay during the late ’90s, according to Vibe.
His family released a statement confirming his death.
“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,” his family said in a statement shared with Blavity.
DJ Kay Slay’s musical talents led him to sign a recording deal with Columbia Records. He released The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1, in 2003, in addition to multiple studio albums throughout his career. His latest album, titled The Soul Controller, dropped in Dec. 2021 before he was hospitalized, Vibe reports.
“Hip-hop lost a real gem,” hip-hop promoter Van Silk said, according to HipHopDX. “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 December because we were finishing up the 200 rolling deep project. He was gonna do his video part with MC Sha-Rock.”
Hot 97 also released a statement on his passing, saying he was a “vital part of what made Hot 97 the successful station it is today.”
“Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay. We cherish the many memories created through the twenty-plus years he dedicated to the ‘Drama Hour,'” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fans worldwide and we will always and forever celebrate The Drama King’s legacy.”