Host Cecil Prescod speaks with Thomas Chatterton Williams about his memoir, LOSING MY COOL: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture. In the book Williams describes how he managed to juggle two disparate lifestyles--"keeping it real" in his friends' eyes and studying for the SATs under his father's strict tutelage. Pappy grew up in the segregated South and hid in closets so he could read Aesop and Plato. He envisioned for his son a lot in life greater than his own, and encouraged Williams to read and educate himself, and to embrace the opportunities that had not been available to Pappy's generation. As college approached and the stakes of the thug lifestyle escalated, the disparity between Williams' street life and home life threatened to undo him. Ultimately, Williams would have to decide between hip-hop and his future.
Thomas Chatterton Williams holds a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree from the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. In 2007, he wrote an op-ed piece entitled “Yes, Blame Hip-Hop” for the Washington Post which generated a record-breaking number of comments. He writes for the literary magazine n+1 and currently lives in Brooklyn.