Revered New York hip-hop figure and radio DJ Keith Grayson, AKA DJ Kay Slay, died at the age of 55 on Sunday, 17th April.
A representative confirmed the news to Pitchfork yesterday, although no cause of death was given. According to HipHopDX, Kay Slay had been hospitalised with Covid-19 in December and was said to be still recovering from the virus.
Hot 97, the iconic New York radio station where Kay Slay hosted Drama Hour for more than 20 years, shared a statement from the Grayson family in an obituary. "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," the family says.
"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."
Hot 97 added, "A cultural icon, The Streetsweeper 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."
DJ Kay Slay got his start as a graffiti artist in Harlem and was featured in the 1983 hip-hop documentary about Style Wars before he entered the disc jockey scene inspired by the likes of Grandmaster Flash. In the '90s, he began releasing his many mixtapes, and in 2003 released his debut album, 'The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1,' featuring collaborations with Amerie, Birdman, Nas and Foxy Brown. He went on to work with stars such as Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar, T-Pain, Rick Ross, Three 6 Mafia and more. His most recent album, 'The Soul Controller,' was released this past December.