When people want to learn more about other cultures, travel is usually the first thing that springs to mind. Wikipedia is probably a close second, followed by food. One of my favorite ways to explore other cultures, however, is through their music.
Even just the instruments used can tell you a lot, from the lute-like ngoni of Africa to the similarly lute-like (yet completely different sounding) biwa of Japan. However, for me it is the lyrics that truly reveal the heart and soul of a culture -- do they revolve around faith, or family, or status? Are they about being adrift, or are they rooted in home and community?
The Streets, aka Mike Skinner, is a hip-hop performer from Birmingham, United Kingdom. His songs, especially on his first two albums "Original Pirate Material" and "A Grand Don't Come For Free" are full of stories about working-class Britain, as well as the ups and downs of his later fame. His music bears only a passing resemblance to American hip-hop -- primarily in the syncopation and mostly spoken-word lyrics. Rather, his background music is lush and varied, and his songs have a much more positive outlook on life -- including one actually titled "Stay Positive."
I also deeply appreciate his use of language, and even when I occasionally have to look up the meaning of a particular piece of British slang I find the songs easy to both understand and empathize with. If you would like to learn more about at least a small slice of British life, I can highly recommend The Streets. Mix it up, and listen to music from the other side of the world!(As usual, I have no affiliation with The Streets or their studios/producers!)