Rap music has become a lightning rod for those politicians and law-and-order officials who are hell-bent on scapegoating it as a major source of violence instead of attending to the much more difficult work of transforming the brutally unjust institutions that shape the lives of poor people. Some hardcore rap is producing images and ideas that many, including the author, find troubling and saddening. At the same time and in equal amounts, many rappers are codifying the daily experiences of "demonized" young black men and bear witness to the experiences they face. Many a gangsta rap tale chronicles the experience of wandering around all day, trying to make order out of unemployment, gang cultural occupation, the threat of violence from police and rival teens, and fragile home relationships. "Hip hop" culture and rap music have become the cultural emblem for America's young black city kids, only a small percentage of which participate in street crimes. The more public opinion, political leaders, and policymakers criminalize "hip hop" as the cultural example of a criminal way of thinking, the more imaginary black monsters will surface.