First time “hip hop” appeared in print (and it wasn’t me)

I didn’t realize there was a controversy about the origins of the term “hip hop” in the media until Michael Holman contacted me via facebook. Michael was part of the original downtown scene that included Jean Michel Basquiat and Fab Five Freddy. He’d just started managing the New York City Breakers when I first met him. The picture of him and me with Phase 2 and Stephen Crichlow was taken around this time at my birthday party at Lucky Strike. I wanted to get his crew into my film Beat Street, so I introduced Michael to Harry Belafonte. At that first meeting, Michael made a pitch to be the director of Beat Street. Both Harry and I felt though, that he was too inexperienced for a multi-million dollar project, but Harry liked him and signed him on as an associate producer. Who knows what might have happened though because the arrival of Andrew Davis as director signaled the demise of my script, although my original story is available in Hip Hop: The Complete Archives so any interested parties can dream with me about what might have been. I wonder if Michael even ever read it?

Sadly, nobody came along to revive the real story in time for the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop.

More to the point of this blog: ever since my original Voice article on Afrika Bambaataa was reprinted in a best-of hip hop journalism compilation, I began getting credit for putting the words “hip hop” into print for the first time.

More recently, Leonard Abrams right before he sold his archives and had a fatal heart attack, claimed the first use was an interview with Bambaataa by Michael Holman in the East Village Eye. Actually, however, both of us were beaten by Collis Davis of the Amsterdam News.

One Reply to “First time “hip hop” appeared in print (and it wasn’t me)”

  1. Thank you Steven, this means a lot. Though my “hip hop” article came first, I have always considered you the first Hip Hop journalist! Yes, I wrote some of the first articles about hip hop (along with you) in the E.V.E., Art Forum, etc., but I was only given that opportunity to hip people to this new scene, as an IMPRESARIO. YOU were the real journalist, you were the real writer, communicating what this scene was all about in dramatic, articulate prose that helped really tell the story! You have always been that person to me, more than anyone else, and I and the world thanks you.
    Your friend and compatriot,
    Michael Holman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.