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DJ Kay Slay, an iconic record producer whose pioneering work helped shape New York's hip-hop scene, has died at the age of 55.

The influential artist, whose real name was Keith Grayson, reportedly passed away due to COVID-19 complications. His family confirmed his tragic death in a statement, which was disseminated via social media by New York hip-hop radio station HOT 97, home to his flagship "Drama Hour" show. Grayson hosted the show on Fridays on HOT 97 for more than two decades.

"Our hearts are broken by the passing of Keith Grayson, professionally known as DJ Kay Slay," the statement reads. "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."

A virtuosic DJ, Grayson grew up in Harlem, where he got his start as a teenage graffiti artist and was eventually featured in 1983's hip-hop documentary Style Wars. He then went on to create and sell mixtapes in the early 90s before releasing his debut studio album, 2003's The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1, via Columbia Records. The LP features Eminem, Nas, 50 Cent and many more hip-hop luminaries.

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Grayson's discography is exhaustive, replete with star-studded albums, mixtapes and compilations. The hip-hop icon ultimately collaborated with a myriad of the genre's most esteemed artists, like Busta Rhymes, Lloyd Banks, Memphis Bleek and Game.

We at express our sincere condolences to the family, fans, friends and loved ones of DJ Kay Slay.


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