Lovebug Starski, the rapper and DJ credited with coining the term “hip-hop,” passed away in Las Vegas at 57. The cause of his death was a heart attack.
Starski, real name Kevin Smith, released a number of records throughout the ’80s including the 1986 album House Rocker and the singles “Amityville (The House on the Hill),” “Do the Right Thing,” and “You’ve Gotta Believe.”
The Bronx-born artist is often credited with coining the phrase “hip-hop,” having been an integral part of the culture since its inception in the late ’70s.
“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.”
Starski was forever immortalized in Notorious B.I.G.‘s hit single “Juicy,” when the Brooklyn rapper referenced him alongside other seminal hip-hop DJs (“Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri, Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski”).
Following the news of Starski’s death, a number of people offered their condolences on social media, including DJ Premier and Ice T.
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
Yesterday HipHop lost another one of its True Pioneers.. R.I.P. Love Bug Starski
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) February 9, 2018
Public Enemy‘s Chuck D also offered his condolences, speaking to Starski’s legacy with HipHopDX.
“Lovebug Starski was A DJ, MC and innovator. A pioneer who excelled before and after the recording line of ’79, the year when rap records began,” Chuck D said. “He was the first double trouble threat in Hip Hop and rap music. He DJ’ed for the great MCs and MC’ed with the great DJs. Besides Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Lovebug Starski was one of the few that took his legendary street records status into the recording world.”