Known as the Drama King (aka Slap Your Favorite DJ), DJ Kayslay rose to the top of his field by refereeing some of the most talked-about MC battles of the early 2000s, most notably Jay-Z versus Nas and 50 Cent versus Ja Rule, on his Streetsweeper mixtape series and later on his Hot 97 radio show, The Drama Hour. Born Keith Grayson, the gully loudmouth grew up with his grandparents in Harlem's East River Houses, where at an early age he befriended Alberto Martinez, who would later become the legendary drug dealer Alpo. Such company meant that Kayslay knew the meaning of gangsta at a young age, but he initially drifted toward good old-fashioned hip-hop culture, particularly DJing and grafitti writing. As Dezzy Dez, his tag name at the time, Kayslay made quite a name for himself throughout New York during the late '70s and early '80s. Drugs began to take a toll on him, though, as his taste for dust and coke gradually spiraled into dependency. He eventually met his fate during the early '90s, when he was indicted for felony possession of narcotics.
Upon his return to the streets, Kayslay began living a new, drug-free life that was a real hustle. For years he worked at random jobs, trying to make enough money to fund his own studio in Harlem so that he could fulfill his dreams of being a big-time DJ. He slowly realized his dreams, and by the early 2000s, he was indeed one of New York's big-time DJs, churning out mixtapes that featured many of the city's top rappers. His big break came during the advent of high-stakes beefing sparked by the unprecedented furor surrounding Jay-Z's ongoing bout with Nas. It was Kayslay who first spun "Ether," and from that point on, he became the DJ who rappers would go to with their latest battle raps, another huge debut of his being the Ja Rule-bashing Eminem, 50 Cent, and Busta Rhymes remake of "Hail Mary" that the three would later encore at Summer Jam 2003. His Streetsweeper mixtapes, which were trademarked by his signature loudmouth voiceovers, were consequently hot commodities during this era, and Columbia Records took the initiative to sign him and finance a major-label version of the Streetsweeper series. Meanwhile, Kayslay hosted a popular radio show on Hot 97, The Drama Hour, where he would regularly debut the latest battle-rap exclusives. At the end of 2004, Kayslay became the head of A&R for the Shaquille O'Neal financed label DEJA34. Kayslay's own Game of Death became the label's first release in spring of 2005. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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