Constance S. (Sacramento, CA)
Losing My Cool
It was difficult to read this well written, seemingly honest memoir by Thomas Chatterton Williams when I realized I was at odds with his conclusion about the reason so many African American students do poorly in school. He writes that they feel the need to adhere to only one culture, the hip hop one, and distance themselves from all others. This is called "keeping it real". As a Black woman I see this as only one of the causes.
The hip hop culture through music,movies, TV and materialism is fed non-stop to our children and it is seductive. Nothing else seems to grant many youngsters the feeling of solidarity and the swagger and the elusive cool. To turn away from this is considered being disloyal and acting
white. It is better to remain with the group than to seek many other avenues of success through education.
Losing My Cool deserves four stars for creating a three dimensional picture of the hip hop world; and four stars for the very inspiring description of his awakening through his father's intellectual assistance and determination.I enjoyed his many references to philosophers and authors . I bookmarked and underlined his many well chosen quotations.
Maria P. (Washington, DC)
The ideas proposed in this book offer a culture shift away from what some believe to be popular, cool and hip. Hip today is not what hip was yesterday, and will not be what hip is tomorrow. The challenge for the young who want to be part of a group for reasons of safety, coolness or just belonging is to find the thoughts that can help create a cool, safe free society. The challenge for adults is to remember that what they do and say is heard and repeated by future generations. In "Losing My Cool" the family is challenging and wise and strongest group of all.
Froma F. (Boulder, CO)
Powerful indictment of hip hop culture
This is an important book. Williams chronicles his life in hip hop culture and his eventual break from that culture as he moves away from negative values (empty materialism, denigration of women) into a life of self examination. Along the way he becomes a philosophy major and Williams is particularly gifted at explaining difficult concepts in language that makes them seem quite simple. Although this is not an introduction to Heidegger or Hegel, you will walk away understanding the ideas they propound. The book is filled with extraordinary insight about the values hip hop culture promotes, what it is like to grow up middle class and black in America and how pernicious the hip hop values are for most young, black people. Williams is very insightful and is most compelling when he reflects on his life. One caveat: WIlliams seems somewhat uncomfortable and overly self-conscious when writing about himself and the people he knows and in the early part of the book, the writing is stilted. Persist! This is a book that is well worth reading.
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)
a young man's look at hip hop
Williams examines the seductiveness and potential dangers of the hip hop lifestyle as it applied to him as a young man growing up in Plainfield,N.J. Ultimately finding his "place" through the study of Hegel, Heidegger and his father's unending belief in study & learning, Williams is able to love the music but ignore the philosophy and find his way as a young African -American philosopher and first time author.
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
Good but not great.
This was an interesting book concerning the effect of hip hop on young African Americans. I was drawn to it by the 15,000 books in the subtitle. The author's father collected these books throughout his life in order to continue to educate himself and his children. The story of the author's being caught up in the hip hop culture and his eventual realization of what it had done to him were interesting but not that much different than other books I have read on the same subject. The main difference is the love and respect that he and his parents have for each other. It's worth reading once.