I would have to say that my ears didn't hear a beat of hip hop until about age 13. I grew up in small town Minnesota, on a dairy farm, where the most common music I heard was country western and the sound of cow's mooing. It wasn't that my parents condoned hip hop music, it was just not something we grew up with or that was prevalent in my "culture" so to speak. I do remember as my older siblings started high school, they began to despise country music and instead began listening to more contemporary forms of music. As an elementary age girl, I did not understand their quest to be "cool" and listen to alternative music.
When I was around the age of 13, my family moved from the farm to the "big city". It was there that I began listening to hip hop music on the local radio station. I would listen to it in the shower and loved the beat, the lyrics, the sound of the music in comparison to the country twang I was used to. I also remember this was the era of burning CD's, and my older brother had a 2Pac CD that I burned a copy of and loved to listen to over and over.
Now, I would consider myself an "outsider" to hip hop. I do not listen to it very much and would admit that I am somewhat ignorant and unaware of the strength and meaning it carries in its lyrics, the beauty of its beat that I cannot seem to feel, and the power that it can create in those who understand it. Although I have not lived an easy, well-to-do life, I have also not had the struggles that are portrayed in many of these songs. It is difficult for me to relate to and therefore I do not find much enjoyment in listening to hip hop on a daily basis. However, I can appreciate it for what it is and what it holds. But this image below is a bit more of my style: