Hip Hop at 50: A Love Letter

From a Bronx basement to God’s ears and everywhere else on Earth

John Gorman
9 min readAug 6, 2023
Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash

You remember where you were — don’t you? When you first heard it? That unmistakable sound. That boom-bap of the Roland TR-808. That syrupy bass. That MC with something to say, too urgent for song.

I do, anyway.

Picture it: PBS, 1986. Reading Rainbow. Run-DMC drops in on Levar Burton prior to a telling of Abiyoyo — a South African folktale recanted by American folk prophet Pete Seeger. They perform their Raising Hell megahit “My Adidas”.

I gaze in wonder. I listen. I forget about my Honey Nut Cheerios. What on Earth is this?

I was just a preschooler but already a bit of a nuisance with my rhythmic table-pounding and pot-and-pan banging. From that point forward I became a much greater nuisance. I had to keep hearing what discovered me. I became a convert, a beat vessel.

See — you never forget your first love. I found mine early, and never questioned it; while I’d open up my relationship to explore…



John Gorman

Yarn Spinner + Brand Builder + Renegade. Award-winning storyteller with several million served. For inquiries: johngormanwriter@gmail.com