When I was about 7 years old, my parents broke up – for the fifth and final time – and my mom, two little brothers, and I left our cozy Lower East Side apartment for an even cozier basement-turned-apartment home in Corona, Queens. Though my dad was still fortunately in our lives, we spent much of our time with my mom’s family. I was the only girl among my 7 male cousins and two brothers, and my rein continues to this day. We spent a lot of time looking up to our uncle, who grew up in 90’s Queens listening to rap royalty like Nas, Tribe Called Quest, and Jay-Z. My uncle and the boys bonded over classic hip-hop, which wasn’t exactly the kind of music made with adolescent girls in mind.
The only way I was going to fit in with my cousins was to listen to their music. Now, keep in mind, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that Slim Shady was my role model. Nor did my uncle and cousins consciously leave me out of the conversation. My love for hip-hop was a slow, inevitable development. I won’t deny the fact that The Spice Girls and Shakira were on my first mp3 player, but right alongside them were some Kanye gems, an Eminem track here and there, and even a Kid Cudi song. (One of my fondest memories was listening to a P. Diddy song with my cousins and lip-syncing the lines with curses in it.) It took a few years before the guys started taking me seriously and telling me about a new mixtape that came out or the next up-and-coming rapper.
Today, I use hip-hop to “soundtrack my life.” Not a shower goes by without a dose of Kanye West. No heartbreak passes without Drake on the queue. Enough Kendrick Lamar keeps me deep in thought on the train.
With this blog, I hope to open minds as well as open ears. If you dig what I’m saying, that’s great. If not, let’s discuss.