DJ Kay Slay dies at 55 after battle with Covid as friends pay tribute to late star

Legendary graffiti artist and hip-hop icon Keith Grayson, also known as DJ Kay Slay, has died of medical complications after a long battle with COVID-19. The East Harlem-born man, who died on Easter (17 April), was 55 at the time of his death. Rumors of Kay Slay’s death began circulating Sunday night, with acclaimed music executive Vac 100 reportedly confirming the news, as did veteran hip-hop promoter Van Silk.

In January, Wack 100 announced that DJ Kay Slay had been hospitalized for COVID-19 since December 2021 and had been put on a ventilator to help her breathe. “Pray for my brother @djkayslay doesn’t look good,” Wack wrote in an Instagram post. “He may be mad at me for knowing Slay, but he needs all the support he can get.” It’s been 14 days battling Covid and now he’s a fan. Please keep it in your prayers

Last week, Wack provided an update on Kay Slay’s condition, writing in an Instagram post that the DJ was “still struggling”. “He’s been out of the #ECMO engine for a few weeks,” Wack added. “Let us continue our prayers as our brothers struggle.”

Slay was a major figure in the hip-hop community, starting out as a graffiti artist under the label name Dez, before earning his moniker Kay Slay as a DJ on a mixtape chain in the late 90s and early 20s. Slay (aka “The Drama King” and “Mr. Smack Your Favorite DJ”) signed to Columbia Records and released his major label debut, The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1 in 2003, which reached #4 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Best Jump Album. Its second-class edition, The Streetsweeper, Vol.2, dropped the following year and reached 10 on that rating. He has released six studio albums over the course of his career, most recently The Soul Controller, which was released in December 2021 just before he was hospitalized.

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