Losing My Cool

Losing My Cool

How A Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hiphop Culture

Book - 2010
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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 breathtaking clarity a burgeoning bond between father and son.

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Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9781594202636
Branch Call Number: 305.2351 WILLIAM
Characteristics: xii, 225 p. ; 22 cm.


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crankylibrarian Jan 19, 2013

What does it mean to be a young black male today? Is hip-hop culture, with its emphasis on violence, sexism and anti-authoritarianism, the only way for black men to self-identify? Thomas Chatterton Williams answers with a resounding "No!" as he recounts his youth as the biracial son of a wise, intellectually demanding black father, who insisted on excellence, but also on a culture of community values and respect. Williams describes in unflinching detail how his youthful flirtation with "thug life" eventually gave way to a mature appreciation of what it truly means to be an African American man. A terrific book for fathers and sons to read together.


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Jun 23, 2011

Coarse Language: Well it does cover hip-hop a bit, but one of the quotes before the talbe of contents has the f-word, however, it's not so bad that there are swears on the back cover.


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