The hip-hop world has lost a true pioneer in the game. Legendary rapper Lovebug Starski, whose real name is Kevin Smith, passed away in Las Vegas on Thursday (Feb. 8). According to reports, the rap pioneer died from a heart attack. He was 57-years-old.
Lovebug Starski’s contribution to hip-hop is enormous. He is considered the first MC and DJ to come out the birthplace hip-hop—the Bronx, New York. He is also credited coining the phrase "hip-hop" during the late 1970s. He would later DJ at the fame Disco Fever Club and then became a major recording artist.
“Lovebug Starski was A DJ, MC and innovator," said Public Enemy frontman Chuck D ( HipHopDX). “A pioneer who excelled before and after the recording line ’79, the year when rap records began. 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 the few that took his legendary street records status into the recording world.”
Some Lovebug Starski's classic songs include "Dancin' Party" and "Gangster Rock" where he recorded under the rap alias Little Starkey. On the latter song, Starski used the phrase "hip, hop, hippity, hop, hip, hop, she-bop, bang." The "hip-hop" phrase would later be popularized by the first successful rap song in the genre – "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang in 1979.
Other tracks include 1983's "Starski Live at the Disco Fever" (produced by the late and great Larry Smith) and "You Gotta Believe," which have been heavily sampled in rap, as well as “Amityville (The House on the Hill)” "House Rocker" and “Do the Right Thing,” among others.
For some hip-hop fans, they probably have heard Lovebug Starski vicariously through Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 song “Juicy,” which begins with the lines: “You never thought that hip-hop would take it this far…Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri/ Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski.”
In memory the rap pioneer, we present 10 raps songs that sample Lovebug Starski, in no particular order, because they're all classic material.
Lovebug Starski was an important figure in hip-hop and he will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.