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Keef Cowboy

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Keef Cowboy
Birth nameRobert Keith Wiggins
Born(1960-09-20)September 20, 1960
OriginThe Bronx, New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 8, 1989(1989-09-08) (aged 28)
Years active1978–1989
Formerly ofGrandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Robert Keith Wiggins (September 20, 1960 – September 8, 1989), known by his stage names Keef Cowboy and Cowboy[1] was an American rapper and a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He is widely credited as having invented the term "hip hop".[2]

Life and career[edit]

Wiggins was first recruited to MC for his friend Grandmaster Flash (then DJ Flash) by 1977.[3] He was a dancer and hype man for the band, and was a pioneer in the use of the call and response style to communicate with the audience. In 1983, he left the group and joined Melle Mel, with whom he recorded the single "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)", followed by the album Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five in 1985.

He has been credited with coining the term "hip hop"[4] in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the United States Army. He did so by scat singing the made-up words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into his stage performance.[5][6]

He was addicted to cocaine in the last two years of his life and died of a drug overdose in 1989.[7]

He is mentioned in the 1998 song "In Memory Of…" by Gang Starr, which references multiple hip hop figures who have died.[8]

Album discography[edit]

Partially based on:[7]


  1. ^ "Keith Wiggins". discogs.com. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Robert Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins". 24 June 2019.
  3. ^ Simpson Street, retrieved 2023-03-12
  4. ^ "Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". JET (April 2, 2007), pp. 36–37.
  5. ^ "Keith Cowboy – The Real Mc Coy". March 17, 2006. Archived from the original on March 17, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "Afrika Bambaataa talks about the roots of Hip Hop".
  7. ^ a b "R.I.P. Cowboy". Streets on Beats. 25 September 2005. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Gang Starr – in Memory of".

External links[edit]