What are the effects of hip-hop immersion on a young black mind? How can we navigate issues of identity and find who we really are, outside of our peer group? Can parents influence their children without employing overt means of controlling them?
I loved Losing My Cool. It’s a memoir by a young black man who evolves from a hip-hop loving and somewhat cloistered youth to one who studies philosophy and abandons ‘hood aspirations for the life of the mind. Along the way, new friendships are established as old ones atrophy, and the freedom of undergraduate life replaces the relative conformity required in high school. I found one of the sharpest insights towards the end of the book, when Williams begins to appreciate the difference between being “of” hip-hop culture, and being “into” hip-hop culture. He concludes that those blacks who are into hip-hop but not “of” it can see hip-hop ironically; see how distanced the concerns of the street are from the priorities within their own lives. Those who take hip-hop seriously and without irony (and to the exclusion of all else!) can become trapped by its hollow pursuits, and slaves to its materialistic ethic.
Not only is this memoir about Williams’s own evolution, but it’s a loving tribute to his father, whose stoic presence looms large in the narrative.
Emotional, probing, and very insightful! This was a great and unique read.
Suggest it to the philosopher, son, father, or gangsta in your life!