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“Hip-Hop” was coined by Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins

One of Hip-Hop’s early pioneers Robert Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins, (also known as “Keef Cowboy”) an MC and a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, is credited for coining the term “Hip-Hop” in 1978.

Robert Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins

Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins was one of the first members chosen by Grandmaster Flash to join the group. “Cowboy” used the term “Hip-Hop” to tease his friend who was joining the U.S. Army. Keith “Cowboy” would chant, “Hip-hop-hip-hop-hip-hop”, in a similar rhythm to the marching troops.

“Cowboy” then incorporated the “hip-hop” rhythm in a stage performance. Though Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins is credited for originating the term “Hip-Hop” in 1978. Keith Cowboy, Lovebug Starski, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Hollywood used the term when hip hop was still known as disco rap. Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term “hip-hop” in reference to the culture surrounding the art and music.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five performed with disco musicians and the disco musicians would use the term “Hip-Hop” in a derogatory way to identify a new type of music being performed by MC’s and DJs. Disco musicians would call them “Hip-Hoppers”, but the name’s negative connotation wore off and the term stuck. Melle Mel, of the Furious Five, is the first rapper to call himself an MC.

Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins was also credited with creating the “call & response” technique which rappers have been using since the ’70s. “Cowboy” was addicted to Yayo and he passed away due to drug overdose on September 8th, 1989. He was 28 years old.

Cite this page: "“Hip-Hop” was coined by Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins." Rap Dictionary, DailyRapFacts. Accessed September 26, 2020.https://rapdictionary.com/hip-hop-was-coined-by-keith-cowboy-wiggins/.