"We will always and forever celebrate The Drama King's legacy," the disc jockey and record executive's Hot 97 family writes.
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DJ Kay Slay, prolific hip-hop disc jockey and record executive, died Sunday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 55.

New York radio station Hot 97, where the DJ — real name Keith Grayson — was a longtime host, confirmed the news with a statement from his family.

"Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay," the statement read. "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," the statement continued. "We ask that you respect our privacy as we grieve this tragic loss."

DJ Kay Slay
DJ Kay Slay
| Credit: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Kay Slay was hospitalized in early January, longtime music manager Wack 100 shared on Instagram. The music entrepreneur said the DJ was put on a ventilator after battling the virus for two weeks, writing, "It's not looking good." Last week, he updated fans and said Kay Slay was no longer on a ventilator and "still fighting," adding, "Let's continue our prayers as our brother continues to fight."

Born Aug. 14, 1966, in New York, DJ Kay Slay burst into the scene as a graffiti artist, adapting the infamous moniker Drama King. He was featured in Style Wars, a seminal 1983 documentary that chronicled the rich hip-hop subculture in New York in the late 1970s and early '80s. He became a prominent DJ in the mixtape scene in the early 2000s.

The hip-hop pioneer has released six studio albums, including the recent The Soul Controller in 2021. Throughout his career, Kay Slay has worked with numerous influential hip-hop artists, such as Nas, Ghostface Killah, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, and Fat Joe. In 2003, The New York Times coined the late DJ "Hip-Hop's One-Man Ministry of Insults" due to his ability to capture high-profile feuds in his mixtapes, including Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent and Nas vs. Jay-Z.

"Cats know it's no holds barred with me," Kay Slay told The Times. "They know that I'm not going to edit anything. It's going out the way you gave it to me. No watering down."

Kay Slay also had a longstanding slot on Hot 97's "The Drama Hour." The radio station remembered the prolific disc jockey in a statement Monday.

"HOT 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay," the statement read. "We cherish the many memories created through the twenty-plus years he dedicated to the 'Drama Hour.' 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. 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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