How did DJ Kay Slay die? Hip-hop veteran, 55, dies after months of hospitalisation
New York City icon, record executive, and graffiti legend DJ Kay Slay has died four months after he was first hospitalised with Covid-19. The record executive passed away on Easter Sunday and his death was confirmed by hip-hop promoter Van Silk, who has known Slay since he was 16.
"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," Van Silk told DX. "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."
“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,” Van Silk said in his tribute.
Tributes pour in
As reports of his death began to circulate on social media, celebrities and fans began to pay tribute to the music star, whose real name was Keith Grayson. Rapper and actor Ice-T tweeted saying he had hoped Slay would "pull through". Record producer Dante Ross tweeted: "Rest Easy King Dez aka Spade TDS aka DJ Kay Slay a legend in two games: graffiti and DJaying. F Covid. Rest In Power."
We lost one of the most SOLID MFs in HipHop.. I’ve been checking in on him his whole struggle in the Hospital. I honestly thought he was gonna pull through. This truly Hurts… F Covid. RIP to the Drama King 👑 #Kay Slay pic.twitter.com/5MyanPPPWo— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) April 18, 2022
Rest Easy King Dez aka Spade TDS aka DJ Kay Slay a legend in two games: graffiti and DJaying.— Dante Ross (@DanteRoss) April 18, 2022
F Covid. Rest In Power 👑
Record producer Statik Selektah tweeted: "I have so much to say. So many stories. This weeks ShowOff Radio will be special. RIP Kay Slay." Rapper Termanology wrote: "R.I.P. DJ Kay Slay!!!! Words cannot describe how much of a legend he was and what he meant to our culture!!!!" Juice Wayne tweeted, "RIP DJ KAY SLAY A true HipHop legend. A New York legend. A mixtape king. long live the streetsweepers."
I have so much to say. So many stories. This weeks ShowOff Radio will be special. RIP Kay Slay.— Statik Selektah (@StatikSelekt) April 18, 2022
R.I.P. DJ KAY SLAY!!!! WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW MUCH OF A LEGEND HE WAS AND WHAT HE MEANT TO OUR CULTURE!!!! 💔💔💔💔💔💔— Termanology (@TermanologyST) April 18, 2022
RIP DJ KAY SLAY— juice wayne (@visecs) April 18, 2022
A true HipHop legend.
A New York legend.
A mixtape king.
long live the streetsweepers.
Model Jenna Shea shared a heartfelt tribute on her Instagram page, as she gushed that she was "grateful for the many years I've known you." She added, "You were a true trailblazer in the music industry and magazine game. They don't make 'em like you anymore. I'm blessed for our last conversations. The man above gonna count you in cuz you never counted nobody out." Radio personality Peter Rosenberg called Slay the "human embodiment of hip hop".
Woke up to the awful news that we lost DJ Kay Slay. The man was the human embodiment of hip hop. Graf legend, DJ legend, mixtape legend ... so unique, so iconic ,.. when I first got to @hot97 -- working with Slay was one of the things that made me so proud to be here .. RIP..— Peter Rosenberg (@Rosenbergradio) April 18, 2022
Family releases statement
Kay Slay's grieving family released statement to New York hip-hop radio station HOT 97 and asked fans to respect their privacy to mourn 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."
Last Instagram post
Kay Slay, who was also known as Dez, released his flagship album 'The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1' in 2003. The rap artist would go on to create five more studio albums during his career — 'The Streetsweeper, Vol. 2,' 'More Than Just a DJ,' 'The Big Brother,' 'Hip Hop Frontline,' and 'The Soul Controller.' He was referred to by The New York Times as "Hip Hop's One-Man Ministry of Insults". His albums have sold more than 350,000 copies around the world.
In his final Instagram post in January, Kay Slay promoted the single 'In My Soul,' which he collaborated on with artists Tre Williams, Papoose, and AZ. After his death, friends and fans also flooded this final post with condolence messages.