The Summer Jam set underlined Kay Slay’s legendary influence.
Written by: Colt Shaw
In a tribute to the station’s legendary DJ Kay Slay, who died in April of COVID-19 at 55 years old, Ebro led the crowd by cheering: “The Drama King is in the building!”
A 50 Cent-narrated tribute video detailing Kay Slay’s impact, directed by HOT 97’s Megan Ryte, featured artists thanking Slay for their careers and popularity. The frequent collaborators that took the stage immediately after seemed to underline Kay Slay’s influence in the New York rap scene. The Lox, Fat Joe, Busta Rhymes, Remy Ma, Juelz Santana, Papoose and Jim Jones all took the stage to perform and honor the DJ.
Born as Keith Grayson in 1966, DJ Kay Slay made his mark on hip-hop history across a number of mediums and decades. His graffiti work under the name “Dez” was featured in the classic 1983 documentary on the subculture, Style Wars. He also published Straight Stuntin’ magazine.
But Kay Slay hit his stride as a disc jockey, something he said he never intentionally set out to achieve.
“I didn’t so much set out to be a DJ,” he told Forbes. “It was just something to do that was fun and that I enjoyed doing.“
Kay Slay was among the leading lights of hip-hop’s mixtape era in the early aughts, releasing scores of tapes littered with the biggest names in rap, from Raekwon, Nas, and Mobb Deep, to Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent. He released his first album, The Streetsweeper Vol. 1, in 2003.
The New York Times hailed DJ Kay Slay as “Hip Hop’s One-Man Ministry of Insults.” His Hot97 show, The Drama Hour, and his many mixtapes often served as a stage for the most memorable beefs in hip-hop history. The DJ often found himself at the center of feuds between such heavyweights as Nas, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Ja Rule and more.
The tribute on Sunday night closed with a stadium full of lighters and a moment of silence.