In the tradition of Nas’s “Bridging the Gap,” Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us,” and Jay-Z’s “Glory,” Pierce Freelon’s new “family album,” D.a.D, offers an introspective look into Black fatherhood. It’s an impactful album that contributes to hip-hop discourse and disrupts stereotypes surrounding Black fatherhood. Its kid-friendly themes and fun, energetic vibes make it the perfect sonic backdrop for long family road trips.  

The collaborative album—which features Freelon’s daughter, Stella, and other musician parents—teaches school-age kids about nighttime routines, dental hygiene, cleaning up, and making new friends. Freelon and Stella even address more serious topics like consent and boundaries. 

It is Stella’s presence that strengthens the album’s family appeal. Almost immediately, kids will fall in love with her sweet vocals. Musically, the project relies on electronic, jazz, hip-hop, and African Diasporic melodies. Taking risks that are appropriate for his target audience, Freelon both raps and sings and is mindful of his tone throughout the project. Although he’s a stronger rapper than a singer, the creative approach is perfect for children.

On “My Body,” Freelon collaborates with country-soul singer Rissi Palmer. Palmer’s verse starts off, “It’s my body and my rules, you want a hug just ask and see if it’s cool.” The age-appropriate message reinforces the importance of creating space where young kids have agency over their bodies. 

“Bubble” continues the conversation around consent and boundaries. The upbeat track provides reassurance to kids that it is OK to communicate a need for space—thus, “get out of my bubble.” 

“Tooth Bruh” is a standout dance track that motivates children to brush their teeth and has the ability to make morning and nighttime routines fun for both parents and their children. The track is followed by an instrumental, “Swirly Cup,” which is intended to accompany youngsters while they are rinsing out their mouths. 

As we reported when the first single, “Daddy Daughter Day” (featuring J. Gunn), dropped in June, Freelon—a musician, activist, and politician—uses voice memos of his family as inspiration for and actual samples on the album. These, too, highlight Stella’s creativity and encourage other kids to tap into their own creative genius.

The overall audio quality of D.a.D. isn’t super polished. The project has a made-at-home, DIY feel, which arguably works in its favor, mirroring hip-hop’s something-from-nothing approach. The beauty of D.a.D. is the educational, kid-friendly messaging Freelon and Stella offer in each song.

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