imageBen Shapiro declares bravely that RAP IS CRAP, because it's all the blacks with their banging and their tim-tutting and clothes branded with obscenities like ENYCE and FUBU and POLO.

Today, Grammy-winning rapper T.I. (Total Imbecile? Thug Idiot?) was sentenced to 18 months behind bars for illegally owning machine guns and silencers. In the aftermath of his arrest, prosecutors informed T.I. that he could serve two decades in prison; he quickly agreed to 1000 hours of community service, touring around the U.S. talking to teens about the problems with drugs and gangs. MTV made a show about him called “T.I.’s Road to Redemption.” This from a guy who dealt drugs as a teen and got busted for coke in 1998.

So, someone who did something wrong (and why do I get the feeling that an incredibly successful private white citizen who owned firearms and had been convicted of a nonviolent crime a decade ago wouldn't get the same treatment?) goes on a prominent tour to redeem himself. Of course, he should be shunned and scorned for that, because Negro.

Here’s the thing: no matter how many hours of community service T.I. does, it will never make up for the crap he puts into the minds of his listeners. His biggest hit is “Whatever You Like.” Here’s a sample lyric “Whatever You Like”: Late night sex so wet you’re so tight …Let me put this big boy in yo life / The thang get so wet, it hit so right.

Whatever You Like may be the worst song ever written, but it's more because of the shallow materialism and patronizing misogyny than the offers of sex after midnight. In fact, if Toby Keith released 2 AM (It's When I Did You, it might be the least terrible thing he ever produced.

Not surprisingly, T.I. has six children from three women. The kids, sadly, have been saddled with names out of the WTF Name Dictionary: Messiah Ya’Majesty (after Barack Obama, no doubt), Domani Uriah, Clifford “King,” Major Philand, Zonnique, and Deyjah (who will no doubt be labeled Vu sooner or later). When Clifford (T.I.’s namesake) is the luckiest kid in terms of names, you’ve got a problem.

Haha, because he worships Barack Obama because he's black and ghetto and his kids have funny names! BAM. Again, I wish I could be surprised that Shapiro manages to point out something wrong and then totally miss what's wrong with it because of his preconceptions about black people's favorite pastimes (which include fucking uncontrollably while reading TANF brochures covered in crack residue), but I can't. Shapiro is literally focusing on every single wrong thing imaginable, and here's why.

There's nothing wrong with hip hop per se. The roots of hip hop come from social protest, outrage and even some form of cultural outreach. NWA, Public Enemy, all the legendarily scary black men that are still referred to when hopelessly clueless conservatives reference the "hip hop culture", they were as much ambassadors from an invisible underclass as they were gangstas or dealers or anything else. Their success came from the legitimacy of their identity, and the credence it lent to their message. What happened, particularly after Tupac and Biggie died, was that the identity became the totality of the message. There's a three-album arc to most mainstream rap artists now, although some have condensed that to two: the first album is biographical, the second is partially biographical, but dealing with how things have changed, the third is entirely about how amazing their life is.

Mainstream hip hop is simply a commodity, one that is largely sold by middle-aged white people to young white people. Its inherent problem (and its victory for the status quo) is that it took a generation of young black men (and women) who came from the ghetto and were gangsters and became millionaires based on talent, and birthed a second and third generation who are largely made into millionaires based on their talent at talking about a generalized stereotype of ghetto/gangster lifestyles (and they are separate things, people). It turns a genre that was based on a startlingly effective anger, dissatisfaction and even bitter wistfulness about what happened to an entire section of America over generations and instead turned it into a bite-size celebration of those same problems.

Nas didn't build Queensbridge, Jay-Z didn't build Marcy Projects. To say that hip hop causes the epidemic problems that face poor inner-city blacks is like saying The Diary of Anne Frank caused fascism.