Interview with Hip-Hop Pioneer Love Bug Starski: Bronx Born MC/DJ Who Coined The Phrase "Hip-Hop"

Posted by Billyjam, June 7, 2017 10:51pm | Post a Comment

Along with DJ Kool Herc (the widely recognized godfather of hip-hop music/culture) and other oft referenced early pioneers of the Bronx born art form of hip-hop such as Coke La Rock, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, and Grand Wizzard Theodore is Love Bug Starksi. The DJ/MC born Kevin Smith is a legendary figure: one of hip-hop's first generation of core contributors. As such he is among the elite genre pioneers who helped shape the Bronx born urban culture from its 1970's beginnings.  Synonymous with the legendary, influential South Bronx hip-hop club Disco Fever, that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and its spinoff label Fever Records for whom he recorded such classics as "You Gotta Believe" and "Starski Live At The Disco Fever," years before then he contributed something even greater to the genre of hip-hop.  Love Bug Starski created the very term "hip-hop" which he worked into his early rap freestyles in the 1970's. It was years before there were rap records, and back when hip-hop was still a street phenomenon limited to the NYC borough of The Bronx.  A music lover from childhood, Note that while Cowboy from the Furious Five has also been credited with creating the term by some, Starski insists that is bull. Starski's career began when, as a preteen, he first became a record boy at the beginning of the '70's. From there his career took off back during the seminal years of hip-hop in the then rundown New York City borough of The Bronx. Now living in Las Vegas, where he DJs, the Amoeblog caught up with the artist by phone to talk on both his own personal history and that of hip-hop.

: So you literally put hip-hop on the map by coining the term "hip-hop" correct?

Love Bug Starski: Yes I am the one who coined the term "hip-hop" and 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] you know it was just a nursery rhyme: nursery rhymes that coincided with the music and that's the God's honest truth.

Amoeblog: And that was back in the early mid seventies before there was really any hip-hop records been made?

Love Bug Starski: Yeah there wasn't no records. I was Grandmaster Flash's first MC. There wasn't no Furious Five. Him and his little parties in Bronx River Center, he would invite me and DJ on the side of his equipment. Back then nobody was famous. There was a young DJ Red Alert. There was a young Afrika Islam and there was Jazzy Jayand nobody was famous. Nobody cared about been famous. And when you walked in those parties back in those days people were dancing and having fun, unlike today when you walk into a party and everybody's on a cell phone. I used to play for Russell Simmons When he went to college I was the only DJ he ever used. That's how he paid his tuition: he gave parties. I never went to school for it. I was blessed with a gift that God gave me and I've been blessed with it all and it's been a hell of a ride for me but I've loved it all. I had the biggest selling record on the Fever label "You Betta Believe" and "At The Fever." Me and Larry Smith did those records. We did "It's Like That," "Sucka MCs" and "You Gotta Believe" in three days! And if you really do your homework, those records all came out in the same month. We toured together, me and Run-D.M.C. and Russell really wanted me with him but I was all tangled up with Sal [Fever Records]. 

Amoeblog: In retrospect, all these decades later, how do you feel about your role in hip-hop?

Love Bug Starski:  I am definitely proud to say that I am a part of it all: me and a few other brothers from the neighborhood that believed in what we were doing at the time. We didn't know what we were doing at the time but all we wanted to do was to make people dance and make people happy. And that's how it all came to light. It was just something that I wanted to do. Number one I've always loved music. I've always been in  a singing group and talent shows. And at the time the South Bronx was at a very bad transitional time. The Bronx was literally burning. Me and a couple of friends of mine we lived in a hub, a certain hub where everybody would bring their speakers out. There wasn't no mixers or anything like that cos nobody had that kind of money to afford the state of the art that was happening in them times. Everybody called it a "park jam" and we'd plug up our equipment into the lamp posts [for power] and just played music man. And we were playing til 4, 5, 6 in the morning and, unbelievably, the cops wouldn't disturb us cos they had everybody in one spot so they knew where everybody was. It was not like today where you can't even play a boombox out in the park if it's too loud.

Amoeblog: Did you guys anticipate that this hip-hop music would grow into something so large and influential?

Love Bug Starski:  No, nobody knew that this was gonna be a billion dollar business that's gonna come along and that there's gonna be a Jay-Z and a Biggie and a 2Pac and that people are going to make millions of dollars off of this and that record labels are gonna exploit these kids out of the neighborhood. Nobody knew that man! Years before it caught on a lot of doors got closed in my face.  A lot of people said 'Stop' makin that noise' and I got kicked out of school for banging on the desk and rapping

Amoeblog: When you look at hip-hop today in 2017 what do you think of it all?

Love Bug Starski:  I don't think about it. Everything is so political. There's a lot of undeserving, let's put it this way: there's a lot of untalented lucky people out there. Meanwhile there's a lot of talented people who can't get in because the industry has ruined it a long time ago. I've been taken advantage of…….and the music of today, I wish people would stop calling it hip-hop cos it's not hop-hop. It's rap. The intention of hip-hop music was to involve the crowd in our happiness: to make them a part of what's happening in the party. I was the one who came up with the term "Boogie Down Bronx" and "Money Makin' Manhattan" and "make money money, make money money" I did all of that. And that line "Throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care" I did all of that years before rap records were even pressed up.

Sylvia Robinson cut the "Rappers Delight" track for me. She didn't cut that track for Wonder Mike and Big Bank Hank and Master Gee and if she was living she'd tell you the truth. I did a birthday party for Sylvia Robinson at Harlem World and she'd never seen nobody like me DJing and having the crowd response and she went home and woke up her husband and said "I know how we going to get out the hole" cos again Harlem and The Bronx, people wasn't doing well. She was a visionary and had more balls than a bunch of men out here. I mean they went and borrowed a whole bunch of money and they made good. She made me feel like one of her sons. Man I loved that woman to this day. You know a lot of people say she did them wrong but she made them money! They don't give people credit that really deserved it.   

Relevant Tags

Love Bug Starski (1), Hip-hop History (63)