The music industry pioneer who is credited with coming up with the term “hip-hop” died Thursday afternoon at his home in Las Vegas. NPR reports that Lovebug Starski died after suffering a heart attack. He was 57.
“In a genre built on catchphrases, Lovebug Starski is often credited with creating the most enduring of them all. The rapping DJ from the Bronx helped coin the phrase ‘hip-hop’ when the culture was still in its infancy, during the late ’70s,” NPR reports. “Along with early DJ partner DJ Hollywood, Kevin ‘Lovebug Starski’ Smith pioneered party-rocking and rapping, while simultaneously DJing, at such Bronx hot spots as Disco Fever, long before hip-hop would become a household word.”
Starski recounted the story of the term’s origin for music journalist Peter Scholtes in 2006.
NPR reports: “During a party night fueled by malt liquor and marijuana, a send-off for a friend heading off to the military, Starski began teasing him, chanting in drill sergeant fashion while marching: ‘hip, hop, hip, hop, hip, hop.’ He and Keith Cowboy of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five began a call-and-response: ‘I’d say the “hip,” he’d say the “hop.” And then he stopped doing it, and I kept doing it.'”
The report adds: “The phrase ‘hip-hop’ would later be popularized by the first hit record of the genre, 1979’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang.”