This chapter examines the productive engagement of second-generation ethnic minority youth in the UK and France with popular culture – specifi cally music. In the discussion below of British Asian underground and French hip-hop, it is argued that in both countries the shaping context includes not only global youth music forms and traditional cultural sources, but also marginalized urban city contexts, and national policies that address the alignment of ethnic minority groups with state interests. Below I use the term ‘hip-hop’ interchangeably with ‘rap’. The former encompasses street-slang, graffi ti, fashion and music while the latter is a musical form based on spoken vocal delivery where the lyrics are central.