Hip-Hop Legend DJ Lovebug Starski Dies at 57

February 9, 2018
DJ Lovebug Starski

DJ Lovebug Starski (Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Abaca Press)


Hip-Hop says goodbye to the pioneer who named it. #RIPLoveBugStarski

Best known for originating the term of a new form of music back in the late 70's...Hip-Hop, pioneer and DJ Kevin Smith, a.k.a. "Lovebug Starski" died of a heart attack on Thursday afternoon at his Las Vegas home. He was 57.

Starski grew up in the Bronx, New York where he and many others, spun records at parties and often made-up rhymes over the heart-pounding beats. A form of party-rockin' which eventually would be called rapping.

According to NPR, Starski once told a journalist how at one party, he teased a friend who was leaving for the army by marching and repeating like a drill sergeant "hip, hop, hip, hop, hip, hop." When Keith Cowboy of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Starski started 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." Eventually it became a signature call to get the crowd dancing "hip, hop, hippy to the hippy hop-bop."

In 1979, The Sugarhill Gang blew up the phrase "hip-hop" when they incorporated it on their mega hit "Rapper's Delight". Although Starski was already commited to another record label, Sugar Hill Records did try to sign him over to theirs.

As "Little Starsky," Smith released some early singles including "Gangster Rock" and "Dancin' Party People."

Success came to Smith in the form of respect for being the one of the pioneers of a billion dollar industry. Smith's name would eventually be immortalized, lyrically by the late Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy."

Biggie's lyrics read:
Now I'm in the limelight 'cause I rhyme tight
Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade
Born sinner, the opposite of a winner
Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner
Peace to Ron G, Brucey B, Kid Capri Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski...

More tributes to Starski resonated on social media: