For many Hip-Hop enthusiasts, August 11, 1973, is the birth of the music genre. Starting with a young woman from the Bronx throwing a back-to-school party at her apartment complex’s recreation center. To keep costs manageable, she had her 18-year-old brother, known for his serious sound system, be the DJ. That woman was Cindy Campbell, and her brother was Clive better known as DJ Kool Herc (Lee, 2018).

DJs became the stars of a party culture held mostly in New York City parks and nightclubs. It wasn’t until the early 1980s when the MCs on the microphone began to command most of the spotlight and the culture spread beyond New York, coming here to our very own Las Vegas.

Hip-Hop and Rap came to Las Vegas, starting with a college rap radio show on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) campus.

During the ’90s, when Warren Peace and Larry Larr attended UNLV together, Warren co-hosted the college’s rap radio show “Word Up,” while Larry DJed hip-hop sets around campus. They were doing what they could to boost hip-hop culture for a city far more synonymous with the Rat Pack and Cirque du Soleil than The Roots and JAY-Z. Neither Warren nor Larry could have imagined how hip-hop would eventually conquer Las Vegas nightlife, but that’s exactly what happened thanks to their pioneering efforts.

As Warren and Larry started making waves off campus, they began introducing the music they loved to the city at large. When he was still a student, Larry hosted some of the first hip-hop parties Vegas had ever seen. So, when David Cohen bought Club Metz, a 2,000-person venue that was later renamed Club Utopia, he hired Larry to spin there on Sunday nights, which became known as “Hip Hop 101.”

Atlanta’s Lil Jon feels equally at home in Vegas. His blend of hip-hop, EDM, and Top 40 hits reflects years of spinning at Strip venues. Lil Jon’s has had his “About Last Night” gig at Hakkasan, the MGM Grand super club.

Pitbull became the first rapper to score an extended stay in Vegas. His own Planet Hollywood residency, “Time of Our Lives.” (McMillan, 2023) 

The Neon Museum is also proud to have hip-hop artists and rappers frequently experience the Neon Boneyard.

Coolio 9 7 22Ice Cube 2017














Left to Right: Ice Cube and Coolio at the Neon Boneyard

Works Cited

Lee, C. (2018, June 19). How Hip-Hop Found Its Way to Las Vegas. Retrieved from Complex:

McMillan, K. (2023, August 2023). Hip-hop is turning 50. Here’s why this moment matters. Retrieved from The Washington Post:

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