The hip-hop community is reeling after the death of Bronx-born DJ/rapper Lovebug Starski. Starski, real name Kevin Smith, was credited for coming up with the word “hip-hop,” which helped spark the creation of the genre in its formative years. His daughter confirmed to Rolling Stone that he passed away of a heart attack in Las Vegas.
Lovebug Starski was responsible for helping craft a lot of the vernacular that still remains within hip-hop today, he used to coin a variety of catchphrases that he would say constantly throughout his DJ sets. His brand of deejaying, known as “party rocking,” was the home of statements like “make money money, make money money money!”
In an interview with Ameoba Music, he explained the creation of “hip-hop,” saying that “[it] 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…it was just a nursery rhyme: nursery rhymes that coincided with the music and that’s the God’s honest truth.”
Starski found a home within clubs and parties in New York in the 1970’s and early ’80s, where his popular singles “Gangster Rock,” and “Dancin’ Party People” reigned supreme. He continued doing gigs throughout the next decade, even getting a shout-out from The Notorious B.I.G. on his classic single “Juicy,” which has kept the DJ’s name relevant for even longer.
In later years, he moved to Las Vegas in the attempt to revive his career with a residency at a local restaurant. He made his final appearance there on Wednesday, hours before his death according to his manager. As told to Rolling Stone, his manager said that he found out that Starski passed the day after: “I got word from a gentleman who was helping him move stuff out of storage that he passed from a heart attack. Leave it to a DJ — he was moving speakers into his apartment.”
Hip-hop legends like Just Blaze and DJ Premier all shared their condolences on social media when the news broke — but the common theme between them all is how influential Lovebug Starski was to their own careers. Even though he has passed, his legacy will forever live on through freeform “nursery rhyme” that helped build a genre.