I grew up in a rural area where hip-hop was existent, but not catalyst to most daily lives. My first exposure was due to my mother's shoddy VHS taping of "White Men Can't Jump" featuring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and Rosie Perez. The soundtrack featured many hip-hop artists and a "rugged" life very much influenced by the hip-hop presence in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. The sensationalistic plot made me feel a bit like an outsider despite my age--their lives seemed very much within a niche and a little excluding. Then came TLC and Destiny's Child on the radio, and eventually "Video" by India Arie became the anthem to my pre-teens. These artists made me feel included or privy to hip-hop because they sounded and looked like me. My relationship with hip-hop has only gotten stronger with age, as hip-hop, rap, and specifically female rappers have become more mainstream.
Recently artists such as Nicki Minaj and Santigold have coincidentally opened my eyes to male hip-hop artists and rappers. I was reluctant to start listening to Kanye or Jay-Z but as a fan felt obliged to if Nicki or Rihanna were featured in their songs. These additions were reluctant primarily because of the non-inclusive, machismo-pumped lyrics in these songs, but has oddly created a learning and positive attitude towards hip-hop today. It is because of these male artists that I began to expose myself to artists such as AraabMusik, Kid Cudi, Flying Lotus, Danny Brown, and hip-hop in general.