Boisterous hip hop legend and radio personality, DJ Kay Slay, 55, became an ancestor Sunday after enduring “a 4-month battle with COVID-19,” his family revealed. He was known for bringing the raw street edge to commercial radio with his own unique brand of radio show format which captivated his audience’s attention. He forged his own lane which several other DJs often imitated.
He was named Keith Grayson after being born at Harlem Hospital on August 14, 1966, and grew up in East Harlem. As a teen he dabbled in various aspects of the hip hop culture, including b-boying and aerosol art where he tagged “Spade 429” as his initial nom de plume, prior to changing it to “Dez.” He was featured in the cult classic graffiti documentary “Style Wars.”
As the late-’80s rolled in he had begun DJ-ing, hosting local block parties and community events, as well as producing popular mixtapes which featured his unique and raunchy style of marketing urban music, earning him the nickname of “The Drama King” He even featured neighborhood street legend ‘Alpo’ talking from prison on several of his mixtapes.
By the middle of the following decade his entrepreneurial success led to his featured “Drama Hour” on Hot 97.1 FM, which lasted over two decades, prior to him becoming ill. Just as he had done on his mixtapes, he often incited conflicts amongst rival artists/crews. He often threatened on-air that he would “Slap your favorite DJ.”
Back then, he boasted: “The game was boring until I came ‘round.”
He reigned on radio for the next two and-a-half decades, and influenced countless DJs which succeeded him. He also provided a platform for many talented, yet undiscovered, talents. Plus, he’s responsible for discovering one of the most gifted lyricists in recent times, Papoose.
He established Straight Stuntin’ Magazine which documented hip hop culture’s stories and street edge.
Memorial services for DJ Kay Slay this Sunday at the Apollo Theater from 10 a.m. til noon.