NEW YORK - Hip Hop pioneer DJ Kay Slay has died after an extended battle with COVID-19.
The Harlem native, whose real name was Keith Grayson, started his career as a graffiti artist.
He later became a DJ and then a record executive.
DJ Kay Slay worked at Hot 97 for more than 20 years. The radio station released a statement saying the staff was shocked calling him a "vital part" in making the radio station a success.
"We cherish the many memories created through the 20-plus years he dedicated to the 'Drama Hour.' A cultural icon, Kay Slay was more than just a DJ, to us he was family."
His family confirmed that he passed away on Sunday after a four-month battle with COVID-19.
He was 55 years old.
DJ Kay Slay had released four studio albums, starting with 2003's "The Streetweeper, Vol. 1."
DJ Kay Slay’ rose through the ranks by refereeing the biggest MC battles on his Streetsweeper mixtapes. Known as the Drama King, Kay Slay grew up in Harlem making a name for himself as a DJ.
His bio on Hot 97 said that he signed his first deal with Violator records with the late Chris Lighty, and released his first two albums, Street Sweepers Volumes 1 & 2, through Columbia/Sony Records.
He was also featured in the 1983 hip hop documentary, Style Wars.
DJ KaySlay attends the DJ KaySlay Album Listening Party at Quad Studios on June 22, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage,)