Fats Joe & E-40 Keep in mind DJ Kay Slay: ‘We’re Gonna Symbolize Him the Proper Means’


After a monthslong battle with COVID-19, DJ Kay Slay — born Keith Grayson — handed away on Sunday (April 17) on the age of 55. A famend graffiti artist who starred in 1983’s Wild Life documentary, and a mixtape maven who launched his closing undertaking in December, it’s secure to say Kay Slay was a hip-hop renaissance man.


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Whether or not he was patrolling the SiriusXM radio airwaves giving rising artists an opportunity to freestyle, or launching Straight Stuntin Journal to highlight curvy Black girls who weren’t getting booked for conventional modeling gigs, the self-proclaimed Drama King all the time represented NYC hip-hop tradition to the fullest. Kay Slay refused to sacrifice his integrity for what might need been fashionable on the time.

Over the course of his embellished profession, the East Harlem native notched collaborations with artists starting from Snoop Dogg to Energy‘s Joseph Sikora. A pair of rap veterans who additionally solid shut bonds with DJ Kay Slay from New York Metropolis to The Bay Space had been Fats Joe and E-40. 

40 and Joe’s relationship with Kay Slay dates again many years, with quite a few collabs below their belts, and the 2 hip-hop lifers even stored involved with the Drama King proper up till his January hospitalization.

Billboard caught up with each E-40 and Joey Crack to recall their fondest reminiscences of Kay Slay, and make clear his legacy in hip-hop.

Billboard: What was your first introduction to Kay Slay?

Fats Joe: The primary time I seen Kay Slay was within the [1983] film Wild Type. He was a legend within the graffiti world, which is our sub-culture. Many of the greatest artists you bought out right here now, they began out as graffiti artists, after which they graduated to promoting these million-dollar items. Kay Slay might’ve simply changed into an artist the place his items had been price hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

E-40: I met Kay Slay within the mid-’90s, someplace round ‘96 or ‘97. He was an actual one. Once I say an actual one, I’m speaking about someone that don’t care about what the media or the trade says about an individual. I used to be all the time the underdog, and Kay Slay didn’t care about no underdog s–t — he cared about what he preferred, as a result of he listened to it with an open thoughts.

Are you able to recall your final dialog with Kay Slay?

Fats Joe: I spoke to Kay Slay the night time earlier than he went into the coma. We each had COVID-19 on the identical time, however mine didn’t hit me prefer it hit him. He was mainly saying that it’s simply so laborious to breathe. This was the very starting, like a few days in… He was like, “Yo this respiration shit is horrible.” In the end, I’m certain that’s what took him out as a result of that’s what was giving him probably the most problems.

I informed him I cherished him and he informed me he cherished me, and I informed him not to surrender and maintain preventing. He informed me, “I’ll by no means quit.”

E-40: I had turned in my verse for his tune earlier than he had gone into the hospital. I had spoken to him too. We had been speaking about vaccination and stuff like that. He by no means thought that this may’ve hit him. He mentioned he’d take herbs and sea moss – I believe that stuff helps forestall it, however anyone can get this s–t.

It bought him within the worst method. And I believed he’d pull by way of as a result of he’s a strong-minded dude. He texted me that he was going by way of it, and his oxygen degree was up so, I used to be actually optimistic and that was encouraging to listen to. He simply hoped that it didn’t get to close down his organs. And that’s what it did.

What’s a reminiscence you will have from engaged on music collectively?

Fats Joe: He bought upset with me one time as a result of I didn’t go to get on certainly one of his tapes throughout COVID. This was when everybody was scared to return outdoors the home. He began cursing me out. Kay Slay can curse Fats Joe out — he’s bought that card. He’ll name round to my closest guys and curse me out with them. They’ll name me again like, “Kay Slay’s pissed man.” He had that kind of juice. Once I put out “Sunshine Delight,” he hit me up: “I believed you wasn’t gonna be in no studio.” I mentioned, “Slay, it’s a success. Come on, man!”

We had an amazing bond for years, and we’re gonna miss him and we’re gonna symbolize him so long as Fats Joe’s on earth. We’re gonna symbolize him the fitting method, as an icon and legend and gatekeeper for hip-hop tradition.

E-40: I used to be on Rap Metropolis round 2003, and we had simply pulled as much as the video shoot and [host] Huge Tigger was like, “We bought the Drama King DJ Kay Slay in the home.” And I used to be freestyling within the vocal sales space. Legendary Kay Slay — that is so unhappy, bro! It’s laborious to consider, and it’s heavy on my coronary heart, as a result of he was such an excellent dude and legendary man. All the time constructive and upbeat and he didn’t take life too severely.

How would you sum up his legacy in hip-hop?

Fats Joe: He’s a king — and concurrently, graffiti artists world wide are sending me tribute graffiti murals devoted to Kay Slay. From L.A. to New York, he’s a Godfather of graffiti, and goes down within the books. Music-wise, Kay Slay — the easiest way to explain him is we misplaced the final man on mainstream radio that may give the small up-and-coming artist an opportunity. 

He was a die-hard New York boom-bap DJ, and even when drill is No. 1 or every little thing adjustments, you take heed to Kay Slay and also you’re simply listening to nostalgia. If you on Kay Slay’s present, you heard all of them with totally different gamers. He by no means modified with the instances or act and he needed to all the time rep NY hip-hop. Lots of people from throughout the nation actually appreciated him for that. They appreciated his loyalty and his realness to the tradition.

E-40: When it mentioned, ‘Warning, the Drama King is within the constructing,’ that’s the dopest s–t ever. There’s no one with an intro like that after they get on the turntables. I’m gonna miss that dude. He all the time stored it stable not salad. He had an amazing ear for music.

He’s certainly one of my favourite DJs and one factor about him is he was distinctive. An enormous dude, carrying these glasses and he was all the time dressed contemporary. He caught to the script and was by no means into sucker s–t. He was the man behind Straight Stuntin Journal and could be humorous on the web. Total, a uncooked dude — and he was older than me, in order that was huge bro.


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