This paper explores the identity work taking place around contemporary subcultural hip hop amongst Australian indigenous youth in two disadvantaged urban locations. Previous work on Aboriginal hip hop has been attentive to the interface between tradition and modernity. However, existing scholarship has lacked a deeper ethnographic understanding of the dynamics between youth and parent cultures, and the tensions between the two generations. This article is based on research with young hip hop enthusiasts, community activists and educators. It deals with the cultural politics of identification and sees hip hop practice as associated with a process in which Aboriginality is crystallized as a principal affiliation and as offering an account for experiences of social marginalization. Far from being an outlet for expressing a prior or essential Aboriginality, hip hop as cultural practice is associated with the production of particular identifications.