Although the topic had been mentioned earlier, here’s a short excerpt from Wired Magazine about what inspired Shawn Fanning to create Napster (namely his college roommate’s frustration with downloading obscure hip-hop). Be sure to check out the Grandmaster Flash excerpt from the same article. Link

Shawn Fanning
Founder of Napster
Kennedy Hall, Northeastern University,
Boston, Massachusetts

“My roommate had a bunch of friends from back home come visit. They asked him how he got this insane music collection — he was particularly into obscure rap–and there was no easy way to describe how to do it. It was pretty remarkable how difficult it was to find stuff and retrieve it. I think fundamentally it came down to the idea that the majority of the people that were making these MP3s available were making them available on personal computers, but they were doing so in a clunky way. I understood the potential of peer-to-peer, even if it didn’t have a name at the time. But it was hard to predict. Intellectually, I could see this would be interesting to people, but the explosive growth and excitement around it isn’t something that could be anticipated.”

see also:
Internet’s Digital Distribution Revolution Owes A “Thank You” To Hip-Hop
Grandmaster Flash and The Quick Mix Theory