DJ Kay Slay aka The Drama King has died. The 55-year-old passed on Easter Sunday (April 17), after a four-month battle with COVID-19. Raised in Harlem, Kay Slay became widely known for refereeing the biggest MC battles on his "Streetsweeper" mixtapes and he hosted Hot 97's “The Drama Hour” for more than 20 years.
“I introduced him to many things, and we did a lot together," veteran concert promotor Van Silk, a longtime friend and Slay collaborator, told HipHopDX. "We talked last December because we were finishing up the 200 Rolling Deep project. He was gonna do his video part with Sha Rock."
Born Keith Grayson, in the Graffiti world he was known as "Dez," and was featured in the seminal 1983 Hip-Hop documentary Style Wars. In the DJ and mixtape world, he was known for his "Streetsweeper" mixtape series from the early 2000s. In 2019, Kay Slay released the album Hip-Hop Frontline and the popular "Rolling 50 Deep" and "Rolling 100 Deep" super posse songs and videos. DJ Kay Slay also hosted Shade 45's Street Sweeper Radio on SiriusXM.
Kay Slay's health had been a topic of speculation for months. It was reported in January 2022 that Grayson was suffering from COVID complications, followed by later reports that the DJ was recovering. In a December Instagram post, controversial Hip-Hip promoter Wack 100 suggested via social media that Slay was moments from dying, but the claim was countered by Slay's brother Kwame Grayson. "He's definitely not going to die. He was slowly fading away, but God didn't let that happen," Grayson said told HipHopDX at the time. As recent as last week, Wack 100 said that Slay was "still fighting" and in need of prayers. "He's been off the #ECMO machine for a couple of weeks now," he posted on Instagram. "Let's continue our prayers as our brother continues to fight."
Condolences to Kay Slay's loved ones and fans.