‘Losing My Cool’ Examines Social Boundaries in Hip-Hop
A new memoir from Thomas Chatterton Williams, entitled 'Losing My Cool,' addresses the interesting social boundaries of hip-hop culture. The writer is at ends with his loving father, who steers him away from the "money, clothes and hos" ethos of the 1990s.
Williams' father, a SAT test prep teacher in a New Jersey suburb, got to his son at an early age. He encouraged him to spend afternoons hovering over a chessboard, playing with scientific instruments and studying vocabulary. Of course, this only lasts for so long. Williams routinely snuck away to watch BET, coveted Air Jordans and internalized some of the more negative social messages from rappers like Jay-Z and Nas.
Things apparently reached a culmination when Williams found out that his girlfriend was cheating on him. Using the lessons he learned in music videos, he unleashed a backhanded pimp slap and (fortunately) become horrified with how he had betrayed the more enlightened upbringing that his father tried to give him.
The book turns into a cultural critique of hip-hop unity -- a good and bad thing. Williams puts his sociology hat on to examine what he calls a lack of "ironic detachment" in African-American communities. Reminiscing on his life, he thinks that his friends growing up heard too much of their personal experience in '90s hip-hop yet were unable to separate the exaggerations and cinematic aspects of the music from the actual reality.
You can order 'Losing My Cool' here.