Kay Slay, whose real name was Keith Grayson, was a DJ at HOT 97. But he had been a star of the genre since the early 1990s, when mixtapes he produced featured up-and-comers and superstar rappers like Jay-Z and later, Eminem.
His depth of experience as a young artist growing up during the rise of Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang, and later as a producer in his own right, introduced him to major artists. He released over 500 mixtapes in 10 years since his first in 1994, per previous reports, featuring artists going tit-for-tat with each other on tracks rarely found on the radio.
His debut album, 2003’s “The Streetsweeper, Vol. 1” was the first marketed to a national audience. It featured 50 Cent, Nas and Eminem, among many others, performing songs primarily produced by other artists, along with its followup. He also worked closely with the artist Papoose, with whom he left Jive Records to record independently.
‘The game was boring until I came around,” he told the Times in 2003. “I brought the controversy back. I brought the game back to life.”
For years, Kay Slay hosted “The Drama Hour” on HOT 97, on which he interviewed countless hip-hop stars and aired out (or inflamed) beef between rappers.
“A cultural icon, The Streetsweeper Kay Slay was more than just a DJ, to us he was family and a vital part of what made HOT 97 the successful station it is today,” the station said.