Keef Cowboy

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Keith Wiggins
Birth nameRobert Keith Wiggins
Born(1960-09-20)September 20, 1960
OriginThe Bronx, New York, US
DiedSeptember 8, 1989(1989-09-08) (aged 28)
GenresHip hop, East Coast hip hop, old-school hip hop
Years active1978–1989
LabelsEnjoy Records
Sugar Hill Records
Elektra Records
Associated actsGrandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Melle Mel

Keith Wiggins or Robert Keith Wiggins, known by his stage name Keef Cowboy and Cowboy[1] (20 September 1960 – 8 September 1989) was an American hip hop recording artist 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

Wiggins was first recruited to the Furious Five by his friend Grandmaster Flash in 1978. 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 & the Furious Five in 1985.

He has been credited with coining the term "hip hop"[3] in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the US 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.[4][5]

He was addicted to cocaine in the last two years of his life and died of a drug overdose in 1989[6].

He is mentioned in the 1998 song “In Memory Of…” by Gang Starr, a song in which multiple hip hop figures who have died are referenced.[7]

Album discography

Partially based on:[6]


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

External links

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