With ‘Bridging The Gap,’ A Father And Son Improved Their Relationship By Bonding Over Hip-Hop

Two years ago, Roderick Coffman II launched the YouTube channel Bridging The Gap with his dad, Roderick Coffman Sr., with a simple goal: Turn my dad into a hip-hop fan. More than 200 videos later, that goal has certainly been achieved. Furthermore, from the seed that is Bridging The Gap, which grew a father-son relationship that most die-hard hip-hop fans would dream of having their child or parents. Video after video, viewers watch Rod II play an album from start to finish in hopes of making his dad love one more hip-hop album than he did the day before. Together, the duo has reacted to classics like Eminem’s The Eminem Show (their most popular video to date), Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, and 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, and more recent releases like Future & Metro Boomin’s We Don’t Trust You, JID’s The Forever Story, and Mac Miller’s Swimming.

Bridging The Gap began as a way for Rod Sr. and Rod II to spend more time together. However, after two reactions video for Jay-Z’s The Black Album and 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, they quickly knew they had something special together. “When we dropped the 50 Cent [Get Rich Or Die Tryin’] video, that one took off quick,” Rod II tells Uproxx over a Zoom call. “The comments were just really, really passionate. That’s really what stuck out to me. It wasn’t even the views, people were like, ‘Yo, I wish I could do something like this with my dad.’”

So, for Father’s Day, Uproxx caught up with Rod Sr. and Rod II to talk about Bridging The Gap, their favorite moments from it, and how the channel changed their opinions on hip-hop while also improving their relationship.

In your first video, a review for Jay-Z’s The Black Album, Rod II, you said that you wanted to hang out with your dad more. What was your relationship like before you began the podcast?

Rod II: Growing up my dad’s always been in my life — both my parents — and just like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs. Going into adulthood, I feel like we didn’t see each other as much as we could. So yeah, I just saw this as an opportunity to spend more time and build a closer relationship as we grow older. I saw this opportunity, I thought it’d be cool to do. I didn’t know it was gonna turn into this.

What were both of your experiences and opinions of hip-hop before Bridging The Gap?

Rod Sr.: When he was younger, I wouldn’t allow him to play it in the house. Coming up in my era, I grew up on music where they had actual bands and the concerts were a lot more entertaining, a lot of dancing and light shows, and different things. For an example, take a group like Earth, Wind & Fire. All the band members were interacting in the concerts and instruments and all the things that were going on. When rap came along, from my perspective, I just saw a lot of guys running around grabbing their crouch going, “Yo! Yo! Yo!” So I was just like, “Man, this is not music,” and that was early rap. So from that point on, I just turned it off. I just didn’t even want to be a part of it. So he was kind of like, “Ah pop, you should listen to this, you should listen to that,” and I was like, ehh… okay, because I love music.

Rod II: I’ve always known my dad to be super, super into music. We listen to music the same way, like in a deeper, deeper way. We love the little sound in the background that nobody even notices, just the small things that make the music so special to us. So growing up, that was my experience, my dad alway played his oldies and I’ve always had an appreciation for that. Then, just growing up with rap, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, I just always had a deep connection with hip hop. Going into the channel, I knew that if I could get my dad to have an open mind about it, he would start to see the things that our music pulls from his generation of music. I knew that as soon as he got that connection and really peeped the artistry of the sampling, poetry, and rhymes, the spark would be there.

What brought you both to moment where you decide to start Bridging The Gap. Was it supposed to be a full-fledged podcast or just a few episodes on some albums at first?

Rod II: I had previously done a couple of different podcasts and projects, so I already had a bunch of equipment at the house. I saw another channel similar to what we do and the idea just sparked from there. The fact that my dad had not listened to any of this music was integral [and] super important, and I figured that maybe he would be open to it. That was just the conversation, I sent him the example of the other channel and I said, “Hey dad, would you would you be down to try this out?” He saw it, he was like, “Yeah, sure, why not?”

Rod Sr.: I just wanted to hang out! [laughs]

Rod II: We sat down, we listened to that Jay-Z album, and honestly, from that first upload immediately got traction in the first week or two. I remember like texting my dad, “Hey dad, there’s like 1,000 plays on this thing and they really liked the video. People leaving all these comments and stuff. We got to keep doing this.” So we just locked in, and the rest is history.

We’re two years in now. Did you think that Bridging The Gap was going to last this long when you first started?

Rod Sr.: I didn’t. Like I said, I’m just hanging out. He was like, look at this, this, and this, and this has hit this, and all these plateaus we were reaching. I was like okay! It kept getting bigger and bigger and so I’m like well, maybe we have something here.

Rod II: I hadn’t really been a person that watches a lot of reaction videos. I didn’t even know that it was such a big thing until we started getting into it, and I started seeing other channels. So yeah, to be where we’re at now, I’d like to say that I figured we could be successful with it, but I don’t know man, I didn’t know we’d get to this point and I still think that we got a long way and a high ceiling we can still reach so it’s a blessing.

In what ways has your opinions of hip-hop and even music overall changed as a result of Bridging The Gap?

Rod Sr.: There’s a lot of talented young people out there and there’s some really, really good music out there, but also [with] hip-hop, there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of suffering. There’s a lot of things that are expressed through their music. It’s happy in the sense that these young people are gaining great success doing what they do, but it seems like they have some deep-seeded pains that they’re trying to get out and they’re putting it down in their music. That’s the sad part of it. It’s like “Joy And Pain” [by] Frankie Beverly and Maze. That’s the way I look at hip-hop as a whole.

Rod II: I’ve always been super passionate about it. I just have a different perspective when I’m trying to choose the albums. Now, when I listen to music, I’m always like, “I wonder what my dad would think about this…” So that kind of changes the way I listen to stuff, but it’s still something super important to me and it’s such a pleasure to sit down, get his opinion, and hear what he has to say. Oh my gosh, when I pick an album and first press play, I’m just waiting like, he gonna vibe with this or what?

In what ways has this podcast improved the relationship between you two?

Rod Sr.: It’s improved tremendously, but now I’m noticing, it’s funny [laughs], just a couple of days ago, we were doing some work, putting some work in and he goes off and I’m still hanging out, right? He goes, “Pops I gotta go, I gotta go. I’ve got to take a sh*t.” I’m like oh, I’m hanging out too much now [laughs]. He getting comfortable, I said ah, he putting me out real polite.

Rod II: Yeah, it’s great man. We hang out and we’ve had the opportunity to do some really, really cool stuff together. Our Teskey Brothers video recently went insanely vital. We got to go out to the concert and meet them, experiences like that. A couple months ago, we visited my grandmother in Indiana and made a reaction video with her. We went to a Drake concert, Travis Scott, we just be doing stuff man. We get these opportunities, people reach out and yeah, we just hang out. It’s just cool to experience these things with my dad and even in those moments, I’m just looking like, “Is he feeling this?” [laughs]. It’s a blessing man.

What is your favorite memory of each other’s from a video from the channel. Whether it be a comment, a certain reaction, etc.

Rod II: My favorite memory of my dad is, in general, when he tells his little side stories. One in particular is so funny to me. He tells a story of his buddy Joe Head from back in the day and it tickles me to the core. The fans love it, they bring it occasionally, and yeah, that’s my personal favorite.

Rod Sr.: I think it’s two for me. There was a rapper talking about somebody stole his bike… The Game! The Game was talking about somebody stole his bike and I’m telling my son about this situation with a good friend of mine, Terry. I started getting kind of upset because I’m still mad about my bike. And then, of course, the reaction when I first saw the Teskey Brothers. I said, “Oh sh*t!.” and then I read the comments [and] they said that’s the “Oh sh*t!.” that went around the world. I thought that was kind of funny.

Big question for you both: What is your favorite hip-hop album of all time?

Rod Sr.: I’m rocking [with] Kendrick [Lamar] and J. Cole, anything. Anything. J. Cole and Kendrick, I’m rocking with them. It is hard though, I’m sure I could add more to that list, but they’d be old school. Tupac, I love Outkast, and then Eminem.

Rod II: Probably My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

What are you both most proud of with Bridging The Gap?

Rod II: I’m most proud of just creating these moments with my dad, being able to share them with the world, and the joy and and even like healing energy that these videos provide to other people. We get all these emails, messages, and comments, it be giving me chills bro. These videos are really important to some people and to be able to just sit in my room and listen to music with my dad and create these moments we’ll be able to look back [on], and you know this stuff is going to live on after we’re gone, that’s what I’m most proud of.

Rod Sr.: For me, it’s almost similar. These times we spent together, creating these reactions, have also created joyful times between he and I. I had no idea because I didn’t know about this whole reaction thing because I’m just thinking I’m sitting here in a room. I didn’t know that we were reaching out to around the world and I was reading the comments, from people in Italy, South Africa, [and] Australia and people… it just touches their lives in such a way. It really freaked me out when some guy was like, “Oh, dude I couldn’t wait until got out from work so I can jump in my car and turn on Bridging The Gap,” and I’m just like what? It means so much to so many other people and that’s what touched my heart. It almost brings a tear to your eye when you read some of the comments of how Bridging The Gap is affecting people’s lives, that’s the positive thing. A lot of people say they really appreciate it because it’s wholesome and is genuine. I’m glad we come across like that because that’s what it is. That’s what I appreciated about Bridging The Gap.

Bridging The Gap videos are out now on Youtube. You can find their social media pages here.