Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture
A pitch-perfect account of how hip-hop culture drew in the author and how his father drew him out again-with love, perseverance, and fifteen thousand books. Into Williams's childhood home-a one-story ranch house-his father crammed more books than the local library could hold. "Pappy" used some of these volumes to run an academic prep service; the rest he used in his unending pursuit of wisdom. His son's pursuits were quite different-"money, hoes, and clothes." The teenage Williams wore Medusa- faced Versace sunglasses and a hefty gold medallion, dumbed down and thugged up his speech, and did whatever else he could to fit into the intoxicating hip-hop culture that surrounded him. Like all his friends, he knew exactly where he was the day Biggie Smalls died, he could recite the lyrics to any Nas or Tupac song, and he kept his woman in line, with force if necessary. But Pappy, who grew up in the segregated South and hid in closets so he could read Aesop and Plato, had a different destiny in mind for his son. For years, Williams managed to juggle two disparate lifestyles- "keeping it real" in his friends' eyes and studying for the SATs under his father's strict tutelage. As college approached and the stakes of the thug lifestyle escalated, the revolving door between Williams's street life and home life threatened to spin out of control. Ultimately, Williams would have to decide between hip-hop and his future. Would he choose "street dreams" or a radically different dream- the one Martin Luther King spoke of or the one Pappy held out to him now? Williams is the first of his generation to measure the seductive power of hip-hop against its restrictive worldview, which ultimately leaves those who live it powerless. Losing My Cool portrays the allure and the danger of hip-hop culture like no book has before. Even more remarkably, Williams evokes the subtle salvation that literature offers and recounts with breathtak
Losing My Cool - Gaining My Self
By Sharon Jones - May 13, 2010
This book is huge, in so many ways. The writing is powerful and intelligent. The content is honest beyond compare. Williams offers insight into the seduction of finding power in the black hip-hop culture, and the difficulty of finding a way out. For educators, sociologists, and any person of compassion, Williams gives life to an extreme dilemma that many black youth experience. And more than that he has analyzed, through his own deep knowledge of literature and philosophy, some answers (if not answers, some awfully good questions) as to why this culture clash exists. I have already recommended Williams' book to several people and I've only had the book for a week! It is extraordinary.
An extremely touching, honest, and brave work
By Evelina - September 2, 2010
The book examines the culture that says that blacks must imitate or even become criminals, that such a stance is somehow more honest and worthy than other possibilities in life, and that those who do not choose such options are cowardly, and false to their blackness. He asks how for so many people did "keeping it real" get to mean being or acting like a criminal or semi criminal, not reading, not being interested in anything but hip hop and sports, and this to middle class persons? The book is about those who have been exposed to other aspects of life, who have had opportunities and options, and who rejected them.
Mostly, the book relates, through the author's young life, how he has seen nihilistic attitudes and "hardness" manifested, how he was tempted by it, and how he rejected it. He pleads for more awareness from African Americans, for broad mindedness, and a realization of the opportunities in life, the things to be learned, and the humane and useful values to be... read more
When "Keeping It Real" Is Wrong
By Sam Sattler - May 19, 2010
It is always easier for an outsider to be objective about an unfamiliar culture than it is for someone totally immersed in that same culture, especially when strict conformity to the accepted norm of the culture serves as a means of survival within it. I recognize, however, that an outsider brings his own baggage and bias into any discussion about a culture foreign to his eyes. And when it comes to the hip-hop culture that so completely dominates overall black culture today, especially the lives of its younger members, I am absolutely an outsider. But, as such, I have long wondered how, and why, American blacks have allowed their culture and their image as a people to be disgraced by something as shallow and destructive as hip-hop. "In Losing My Cool," Thomas Chatterton Williams explores how the hip-hop culture came to dominate Black America and what needs to be done to counter its terrible influence on young people.
As the subtitle to his book ("How a Father's Love and... read more
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