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Lovebug Starski, Hip-Hop Pioneer DJ and Rapper, Dies at 57
DJ and rapper Lovebug Starski, the man often credited for coining the phrase "hip-hop," died on Feb. 8 of a heart attack at his home in Las Vegas at age 57.
One of the cornerstones of a genre and a movement, Kevin "Lovebug Starski" Smith emerged from the Bronx in the late '70s as a double-threat DJ and rapper, and developed his own brand of party-rocking, performing with his partner DJ Hollywood at clubs and parties throughout New York City.
As part of the scene that fostered turntablist innovators such as DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash, Starski's name became synonymous with the influential hip-hop club Disco Fever. It was during this era when he helped coined the phrase that would grow into a worldwide culture.
"That was one of my rhymes when I would get stuck for words and I used to go 'hip, hop, the hip, the hip, hip the hopping' [laughs]" Starski told Amoeba. "You know it was just a nursery rhyme: nursery rhymes that coincided with the music."
The phrase was co-opted by Sugarhill Gang for their genre-defining single "Rapper's Delight" in 1979, a recording many consider as the first in modern hip-hop. Sylvia Robinson, who ran Sugar Hill Records at the time, initially pursued Starski, but he was tied up in another recording contract.
Releasing singles such as "Gangster Rock" and "Dancin' Party People," under the name Little Starsky, he established his signature catchphrase-heavy style, laying claim to now-ubiquitous pharases like, "make money money, make money money money," and "throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care."
Starski continued to DJ and perform throughout the '80s and '90s, and was immortalized by Notorious B.I.G. in "Juicy," the first single off the late rapper's 1994 debut album, Ready To Die. Biggie raps, " "Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri, Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski," paying his respects to Starski as one of hip-hop's — and New York's — most legendary DJs after delivering the rhetorical setup line, " "Who ever thought that hip-hop would take it this far?"
We Lost One Of Our Greatest Pioneers Of Hip Hop...
He Is Also Known As One Of The People Who Came Up With The Name "HIP HOP" Aside From Another Legend "Keith Cowboy" Of "The Furious 5"...
Salute To All The Pioneers and Condolences To His Family.#HipHop pic.twitter.com/AH4bNrSIOg
— DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) February 9, 2018
Hip-hop's biggest names, from DJ Premier to Just Blaze, LL Cool J to Chuck D, have taken to social media to pay tribute to Starski. Considering the incalculable and ever-growing influence of hip-hop culture on both music and the world, Starski's contributions live on in ways that are only beginning to manifest.