Part memoir and part cultural critique, Rap Dad is a reflection on fatherhood in America, explored through the lens of race, hip-hop, and the counterculture.
Just as his music career was taking off, Juan Vidal received life-changing news: he’d soon be a father. Throughout his life, neglectful men were the rule—his own dad struggled with drug addiction and infidelity—a cycle that, inevitably, wrought Vidal with insecurity. At age twenty-six, with but a bare grip on life, what lessons could he possibly offer a kid? Determined to alter the course for his child, Vidal did what he’d always done when confronted with life’s challenges. He turned to the counterculture.
In Rap Dad, the former musician turned journalist takes a thoughtful and incredibly inventive approach to exploring identity and examining how we view fatherhood in a modern context. To root out the source of his fears around parenting, Vidal revisits the flash points of his juvenescence, a feat that transports him back to the drug-fueled streets of 1980s-90s Miami. It’s during those pivotal years that he’s drawn to the counterculture—skateboarding, graffiti, and the music of rebellion: hip-hop. As he looks to the past for answers, he infuses his personal story with rap lyrics and interviews with some of pop culture’s most compelling voices—of which plenty have proven to be some of society’s best, albeit non-traditional, dads. Along the way, Vidal confronts the unfair stereotypes that taint urban men—especially Black and Latino men—in today’s society.
An illuminating journey of discovery, Rap Dad is a striking portrait of modern fatherhood that is as much political as it is entertaining, personal as it is representative, and challenging as it is revealing.
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About the Author
Juan Vidal is a writer and cultural critic for NPR. His work has appeared in Vibe, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and GQ, among others. Rap Dad is his debut book.