Origins of the Terminology – Hip Hop

Coinage of the term hiphop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Though Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and DJ Hollywood used the term when the music was still known as disco rap, it is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop” in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the “hiphop” cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly copied by other artists; for example the opening of the song “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Former Black Spades gang member Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture that hiphop music belongs to, although it is also suggested that the term was originally derisively used against the new type of music.

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