​​Hip-Hop Artists Whose Cultures May Surprise Fans: Rubi Rose, 21 Savage, Bruno Mars & More

​​Hip-Hop Artists Whose Cultures May Surprise Fans: Rubi Rose, 21 Savage, Bruno Mars & More

Many top fan-favorite hip-hop artists have backgrounds that might surprise fans. From international upbringings to unexpected cultural influences, artists like Rubi Rose, 21 Savage, Bruno Mars, and more, have unique stories that add another layer to their music. 

Where Are They From?

Here’s a closer look at their diverse backgrounds and celebrate the cultural richness that fuels their artistry:

Rubi Rose

Rubi Rose, born Rubi Rose Benton in Lexington, Kentucky, brings a blend of cultures to her music. 

With an Eritrean immigrant mother who works as a dentist and a father of Japanese and African-American descent who works as a lawyer, Rose’s multi-racial background adds depth to her artistry. Moving to Atlanta during high school, she pursued her rap and modeling career, even appearing in the music video for the Migos hit “Bad and Boujee.”

21 Savage

Despite his strong affiliation with Atlanta, 21 Savage, born Sheyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, has a surprising origin. 

Born in London, England, to Caribbean parents who are British nationals, the rapper’s upbringing adds an unexpected twist to his music. In 2019, he faced legal challenges when it was revealed that he had been living unlawfully in the United States since his non-immigrant visa expired in 2006.

DJ Khaled

DJ Khaled, known for his hit collaborations and larger-than-life persona, also has a unique cultural background. Born and raised in New Orleans to Palestinian immigrant parents, Khaled’s Palestinian heritage sets him apart in the rap industry. 

With a deep love for hip-hop from a young age, he initially went by the name Arab Attack but changed it after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City. Khaled has also openly shared his devotion to the Muslim faith. With him being of Palestinian descent, DJ Khaled faced criticism from users on social media during the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

The conflict has lasted since 1948, but on October 7, 2023, Palestinian-led Hamas invaded Israel, which caused Israel to drop numerous bombs in Palestine. 

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars, the renowned pop and R&B artist, boasts a multicultural heritage that resonates with his diverse fanbase. 

Born as Peter Gene Hernandez in Hawaii, Mars is of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent through his father, while his mother is a Filipino immigrant with Spanish ancestry.  Bruno started performing early as he appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show in the early 1990s as he played with his family’s band.


R&B legend Usher, whose real name is Usher Raymond IV, has connections to the Creole culture of Haiti, despite being born in Dallas, Texas. 

After a brief stay in Chattanooga, Tennessee during his early childhood, Usher moved to Atlanta, where he set out to pursue his singing career. With his first single, “Call Me A Mack,” released at 15 for the movie soundtrack of Poetic Justice, Usher showcased his immense talent from a young age.

Rappers Who Grew Up In Middle-Class Backgrounds

In a similar vein, the hip-hop industry has seen artists facing scrutiny for rapping about the “hood lifestyle” despite growing up in middle-class backgrounds. This contradiction highlights the complexity of artistic identities and the need to challenge assumptions about an artist’s upbringing.

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