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Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture

As a teenager in suburban New Jersey with a black father and white mother, Thomas Chatterton Williams, who was named after an 18th-century English poet, thugged up and dumbed down his speech. He was “keeping it real,” as he saw it, in the hip-hop era. But thanks to his scholarly father, Williams, now 29, came to see hip-hop as self-destructive: “petty, limited, money-hoes-and-clothes obsessed.” Losing My Cool is a provocative, intellectual memoir. It ends with a plea “to stop confusing the shoes on our feet or the songs in our ears for ourselves.” — Bob Minzesheimer of USA Today