NEW YORK — Pioneering hip hop artist Keith Grayson, who performed as DJ Kay Slay and worked with top stars, has died of complications from COVID-19.
Grayson's death at age 55 on Sunday was confirmed by his family in a statement released through New York radio station HOT 97, where he hosted “The Drama Hour” for more than two decades.
“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,” the family statement said.
His death comes four months after his initial diagnosis and hospitalization with COVID. At the time, Grayson's brother said that this condition was not life-threatening, telling the online magazine HipHopDX that his brother was "definitely not going to die."
Grayson grew up in Harlem, immersed in New York City's early hip hop scene. He got his start as a teenage graffiti artist and was featured in the 1983 hip hop documentary “Style Wars."
He began selling bootleg mixtapes on street corners in the early '90s and released his first studio album, “The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1,” in May 2003. Grayson released several more albums and worked with the likes of Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes.
“Hot 97 is shocked and saddened by the loss of our beloved DJ Kay Slay,” the station said in a statement.