Ongoing History Daily: The origin of the term “hip hop”

Hip-hop continues to be a major force in culture and an influence on other genres of music. But have you ever wondered why it’s called “hip-hop?”

The answer lies in the late 70s when a DJ named Joseph Saddler started playing parties in The Bronx. As he spun records, his friend, Robert Wiggins, would hype the crowd by reciting simple rhymes over the beats of the records Saddler’s records.

At one party, a friend who had just enlisted in the army showed up. Wiggins started teasing him about all the marching up and down the square he’d soon be doing. As the music played, Wiggins shouted “Hip, hop, hip, hop.” That seems to be the earliest application of that term to this growing new music. Joseph Saddler soon became better known by his stage name Grandmaster Flash and Wiggins became the MC Keef Cowboy.

Together with some other members, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were formed, becoming one of the earlier pioneers of hip hop.

Friday’s ongoing History Daily post was about Nirvana’s first-ever proper record contract.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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