KID ROCK BIO
Straight out of Detroit Rock City, here comes the one and only Pimp of the
The man who would be Kid Rock grew up Bob Ritchie in the small town of Romeo, Michigan, a predominantly-white Detroit 'burb, where he absorbed the rock 'n' roll that sprang forth from the FM radio as well as the bad-ass beats emerging from the urban underground. Inspired by the energy of hip hop pioneers like Run DMC and Whodini, the Kid began hanging out in the projects of nearby Mt. Clemens. He was a member of a local breakdancing crew - The Furious Funkers (!) - and first put the wheels of steel in motion while still in high school. Grabbing thunder across the largely-black local talent show scene, Bob earned himself his moniker spinning at subterranean basement parties: Watch that white kid rock!
Nation, the Bullgod his ownself, the man known and loved as Kid Rock...
Grand Royal has hailed the Kid for his "Rage Against The
Machine-style hard rap with mad, melodic, Alice In Chains-inspired choruses," and his
hedonistic, wildly eclectic tunes have been featured on MTV's Beach House,
ESPN's X-Games and even ABC's Wide World Of Sports.
Now, on his Lava/Atlantic/Top Dog debut, "DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE,"
Kid Rock unleashes the full-on motherlode: a rambunctious cocktail
shaker of blue-eyed hip hop, freestyle rap, spaced-out funk,
psychedelic rock, jazz, blues and everything else under the sun up to
and including the proverbial kitchen sink.
Bolstered by the hard rhythms and guitar slam of his Twisted Brown
Trucker band, Kid Rock kicks his lascivious and loquacious
lyrical jams over an innovative blend of classic-styled breakbeats
and liquored-up Lynyrd Skynyrd rock 'n' roll. Off-the-hook tracks like
the groovy "I Got One For Ya'" and the country-fried "Cowboy"
or power stomps like "Somebody's Gotta Feel This" (originally found
on Atlantic's "ROAD RASH 3D: THE ALBUM") and "I Am The Bullgod"
show Kid Rock to be walking the streets ahead of the pack, looking
back over his shoulder at the cutting edge of today's hip hop
and hard rock sounds.
"We got such a diverse record," Kid Rock beams under his
wide-brimmed fedora. "I'm kicking old school rap songs and then
I do a metal thing. People are going to have a hard time with it:
'What the f*ck's he doing? He's all over the place!'"
"I went to every fucking rap show from '84 on," the Kid reminisces. "I still have all my ticket stubs. I've been supporting this shit from day one. I've been true to this game, given my heart and soul and shining like a diamond getting passed as coal.
"It's total rock and roll," he goes on, explaining why hip hop struck such a chord in a self-proclaimed redneck. "Chicks and limos and money and hanging out and fuck you, I don't want to go to school. That's what kids want to hear. It's what you want to hear when you're 15. It's the attitude."
In 1988, he laid down his first batch of demos, recordings which earned him an opening performance spot with Boogie Down Productions. That gig brought Kid to the attention of Jive Records, who signed him immediately. 1990 saw the release of the Kid Rock debut album, "GRITS SANDWICHES FOR BREAKFAST," produced by Kid Rock with Too $hort and D-Nice, and featuring a flat-topped, 40-guzzlin' cartoon Kid on the cover.
The record included what would be the first of many Kid Rock ditties about the joys of oral love, "Yodeling In The Valley." That track led to the largest-ever government fine to be leveled at a college radio station, when the FCC decided that the State University of New York at Cortland's WSUC-FM owed them $23,750 for airing "obscene, indecent, or profane language by means of radio communication." Though the base fine would normally be $12,000, the FCC adjusted the figure, stating that "the egregious nature of the material exacerbates the violation." Fortunately, after being on the butt end of mucho bad press (and the losing end of a New Music Seminar debate with Kid himself), the FCC eventually dropped the fine altogether.
"It's not even that foul," Kid points out. "Y'know, 'Watch a girl get frisky and then wash it down with a shot of whisky.' But someone didn't appreciate that."
Further street cred came when he found himself the opener on a 20-city U.S. tour with hip hop luminaries Ice Cube and Too $hort. Kid Rock eventually moved east to NYC - Crooklyn, to be exact - and in 1993 laid down his sophomore salvo, "THE POLYFUZE METHOD," which included yet another dirty anthem, the Howard Stern-samplin' "Balls In Your Mouth." The album nevertheless displayed Kid Rock's growing musicality, with country-inspired raps banging head-on with rock balladry as well as unexpected samples such as the Doors' "Soul Kitchen"... five years before Smash Mouth followed suit on their hit "Walking On The Sun"! In addition, the album even included the surprisingly mature and poignant "My Oedipus Complex," the Kid's straight-faced rap about his estranged dad. The Village Voice hailed "THE POLYFUZE METHOD" for "joining rap and metal with love for both and reverence for neither," noting that Kid was "a born rapper, effortless and thrilling."
"I'm a cocky piece of shit," he agrees. "But I can back it all up. I'll f*cking pick up a guitar, I'll go grab the turntables, I'll sing, I'll rap, I'll fucking do a back flip off the stage!"
The hot rock-and-heavy metal "FIRE IT UP" EP followed, but was barely issued by the Kid's baffled label. He returned to Detroit where he began to focus his energies towards his own Top Dog indie label. In '96, Top Dog gave the world "EARLY MORNIN' STONED PIMP," a hardboiled collection of G-funk filtered through Kid Rock's distinctly Midwestern whiteboy worldview, featuring Black Crowes' keyboardist Eddie Harsch and the sultry vocals of Sub Pop soul diva, Thornetta Davis. The Kid's entrepreneurial skills have proven to be as deft as his musical gifts as Top Dog has become quite the money-maker, as has his red velvet-walled studio, Temple of the Dog.
"I took an $8,500 loan and flipped it into one hundred and twenty grand in eight months," he crows. "Now I got the bank calling me every day, 'Would you like to invest some of your money?' I bought my own house. I bought a car. I got full custody of my kid. I'm doing real fine. Nothing I could retire on, but you know, I got a nice house - fucking paid cash for it - and I had fun. But now, you know, I want some Elvis Presley shit. I want some fucking Rollses and some mansions."
Now, at long last, comes "DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE." Here Kid Rock and Co. tear the roof off the sucka with a bounty of B-boy boogie and streetwise throwdowns, liberally injected with a dose of the ol' metallic K.O. The headbangin' opener "BAWITDABA" take a classic old school crowd chant and doses it with axe riff that screams raw power, while "F-ck Off" sees Kid Rock dropping lyrics with his pal, Eminem, a white rapper from Detroit who recently signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath label.
"He grew up listening to my shit," Kid beams like a proud papa. "In a few years, Detroit's going to be the white rap capital of the world. Already is."
In addition to Eminem, the record sees guest appearances from a number of the Kid's Motor City homies, including bluesman Robert Bradley. And like the previous Kid Rock-ers, "DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE" also incorporates an allotment of unlikely samples, ranging from Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News" (on "Wasting Time") to the Politicians' 70's hit, "Free Your Mind" (on "Welcome 2 The Party").
"The sampler, to me, is an instrument," explains the Kid. "It's like a guitar. That's how I look at it when I go in and make the music. My sampler is my instrument. Sure, I can go grab a Diana Ross record, fuckin' loop it up myself, and it's going to be a hit. All I got to do is talk some shit over it. Which isn't easy, but a lot of people do that. But take that Diana Ross song, and put it together with an Ike Turner song and then throw original guitar over it and some beats behind it, and out comes a new thing."
Though he's happy to kick out the jams with just his raps and his decks, Kid Rock has himself a big-ass rock 'n' roll combo and he knows how to use it. On tracks like "I Got One For Ya" or the title cut, Twisted Brown Trucker burn down the joint while the Kid fiddles with his 808.
"You know Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band?," the Kid explains. "We're Kid Rock and Twisted Brown Trucker. I want a band and I don't want it to be just hired musicians to go out on the road. I want to put faces to them so, like, the kids who play guitar can say, 'I want to be like Jason Krause of Twisted Brown Trucker. That motherfucker's sweet!'"
TBT's live-in-concert cosmic slop has made the Kid a major act in his home territory, selling out Midwestern venues of varying size, including the 2,200-capacity State Theater in Detroit. The band's amalgamation of two-guitars-decks-and-drums rock with pounding beats, keyboard virtuosity, explosions, midgets, strippers, pimp suits and the indomitable Kid in the spotlight can hardly be contained on any stage, inspiring equivalent madness in the booty-shakin' throngs.
"F*ck playing New York City and L.A., man," the Kid says of bringing TBT on the road. "They can fucking have those places to themselves. I want to go to Iowa, I want to go to Indiana. Because those kids are ready, man. They want to party. They're not overexposed, y'know. They're not on the inside."
Perhaps the most striking thing about "DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE" is the Kid's almost-effortless way with blending sounds and styles, a habit he picked up in his youth and refuses to give up. His ingenious cut-and-paste studio techniques seamlessly merge hip hop production to a rock foundation, all done in the most immediate of fashions. Upon realizing his deadline - and a number of angry record execs - loomed near, Kid wrote and recorded the bulk of "DEVIL WITHOUT A CLUE," in a little over a week. For example, on the "Free Bird"-ian ballad, "Only God Knows Why" (conceived while Kid cooled his heels in a Mt. Clemens drunk tank after the excessive celebration which followed the signing of his Atlantic contract), the Kid wrote, produced and played every track in a remarkable three hour period! Here's the point: in the freewheeling sonic world of Kid Rock, absolutely anything is possible...
"I'm a party ass motherf*cker," Kid Rock says, "I can pick up a guitar and play a Hank Williams song, then I'll pick up the turntables and rock a basement apart. I can get on the drums and bust beats. And I can put it all together in a studio. You know my motto, man: If it looks good, you'll see it. If it sounds good, you'll hear it. If it's marketed right, you'll buy it. But if it's real, you feel it.
"I think it's good timing for once," he declares. "Every time I've come out I've had to deal with so much bullshit, Vanilla Ice or Marky Mark or whatever. It's just like, this is what I do. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash and Skynryd and all that, but at the same time I had this love for rap and the turntables. There's a lot of kids like me."