An iconic DJ, record executive, and rapper DJ Kay Slay who was called “Hip-Hop’s One-Man Ministry Of Insults,” by The New York Times, died at 55 after contracting COVID-19 in January. He was known as a pioneering DJ who came up alongside classic rap DJs such as Grandmaster Flash and hosted The Drama Hour on the New York radio station Hot 97 for over two decades.

Hot 97 released a statement from the family of DJ Kay Slay, born Keith Grayson. It read, “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 and a legacy that will transcend generations.”

Keith Grayson was born in New York City, New York on August 14, 1966. He grew up in the East River Projects in East Harlem, New York, and first gained recognition as one of the city’s most prominent graffiti artists with the tag “DEZ.”

After the city cracked down on graffiti in the late 80s, Grayson began his music career and released his first bootleg mixtape in 1994. He released over five hundred tapes in this fashion, and they featured beefs between artists such as 50 CentEminem, Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z going at each other in under the radar settings. The tapes could be bought on street corners and niche stores in New York’s West Village, and on specific websites online.

Grayson’s major studio debut was The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1 in 2003. He released four studio albums in total. Even with his record of starting and hosting fights between fellow rappers, he ended one notorious beef when New York City rivals Fat Joe and 50 Cent collaborated on his 2014 single “Free Again.”

With the moniker “The Drama King” granted by his radio show and seemingly supernatural ability to motivate diss tracks, Grayson didn’t stop there. He also worked plenty in record publishing with his own label dubbed Streetsweepers and even worked as head of artists for Shaquille O’Neal‘s record label DEJA34.

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