Growing up in a family where hip-hop was embedded into our daily lives, it becomes difficult to pinpoint exactly when my introduction to this form of art was. My earliest memories consist of artists such as Nas, Tupac, and Notorious B.I.G. Because my large family was always packed in the van and on the go, I remember the radio and my step-dad's CD's being the primary exposure to hip-hop throughout my childhood. Although your typical listener isn't a seven-year-old Caucasian, I never felt like an outsider while listening to hip-hop. In fact, it was the one thing that had the power to unite our mixed family at the end of a chaotic day.
I think the first time I realized that hip-hop wasn't something that everyone had the chance to experience was when I started school. I would try to talk to other kids about music, and they looked at me like a deer in the headlights. I remember there being a moment of feeling like an outsider because I listened to Snoop instead of the Backstreet Boys, but I can assure you it only lasted a moment. While other kids were being sheltered from hip-hop, I was drenched in it, and I loved every moment of it. I was being taught to embrace culture and differences, and because of hip-hop I was able to grow up in the suburbs with a very different appreciation of diversity than most. I thank my parents for taking what my friends' parents thought to be "a risk" in exposing me to hip-hop at an early age. It has truly been embedded into many parts of my values and personality.