Jazz was created by African-Americans. It's impossible to say with any authority exactly where and how it started, other than to acknowledge that it started in Black-American culture. It is much easier to point out who was the first white person to play on a jazz recording.

Likewise, with “shout-out” and the hip-hop DJ culture of the late 70s and 80s, only black people ever used the slang phrase, until one intrepid white announcer used it on-air, and the rest is history. Who was that first white announcer and when? Probably in the mid to late 90s.

I'll settle for the first known use of the term in print; used in exactly the modern urban-hipster context.

  • 2
    Of course, it should be noted that "shout out" was famously popularized by Sarah Palin in her 2008 vice-presidential campaign. (BTW, doing Ngram on "big shout out" will eliminate a lot of the noise. The expression was absent prior to 1988 and took a jump around 2002. Not enough data to see subsequent to 2008.)
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:43
  • The phrase actually originated back in the early 80's (*83 to be exact) when DJ Ralph McDaniels had a show on WLIW in NYC called "Video Music Box". It was the original Hip-Hop music video program & he would use the term as a sort of catch phrase for people to say hello over the air waves to their friends & family. He called it a"Shout out" answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091208001035AAklaMX
    – user66974
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:46
  • 1
    Please define use, define white. and define media.
    – choster
    Oct 19 '15 at 20:49

I can't say who was the first white who said that, but the following extract may be helpful in detecting its early usages:

  • OED has a draft entry for “shout-out” with cites back to 1990, but it doesn’t give any indication of that sort of reanalysis:

Shout-out n. colloq.

  • A mention, acknowledgement, or greeting, esp. one made over the radio or during a live performance; a namecheck. In the United States, esp. among performers or fans of rap music; in the United Kingdom, particularly associated with dance music and club subculture.

    • 1990 Newsday (Nexis) 8 Feb. II. 15 There were Mardi Gras anthems and a shout out to Africa, and plenty of spare, angular funk.
    • 1991 Source Dec. 36/2 Big fat shout outs and congrats to the Black Rock Coalitionon the release of their compilation album.
  • But when I search on early examples of “shout out” on the alt.rap newsgroup from 1991, there are a lot that fit the frame you’re talking about:

    • Let me get a shout out to the MAINE posse. (4/13/91) Please send a shout out to them for me because I can’t get that newsgroup. (4/13/91)
    • They are also giving a shout out to Kool Moe Dee, late of the Terrible Three. (6/21/91)


  • According to M-W shout-out first known use is from 1990.
  • Arsenio Hall is the first person I remember using the term on his TV show, so probably 1989-90. Apparently there was a NYC TV video show Video Music Box that used “shout-out” regularly as an on-air catchphrase, as early as 1984.
    – ipso
    Oct 19 '15 at 19:00

Video Music Box, which was on a local cable station in NY and hosted by Ralph McDaniels in the early 80s likely originated this. once out in the culture it reverberated around and outside of that immediatae audience and carried by that audience into the wider culture.

Look here for recent press on that show: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.47537/title.hip-hop-pioneer-ralph-mcdaniels-to-host-video-music-box-35th-anniversary-concert

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