Kid Rock - Devil Without A Cause - Review
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critics' view

Kid Rock’s breakthrough album Devil Without A Cause, released at the tail end of the summer of 1998 would go on to become one of the biggest blockbuster albums of the decade. Topics such as race, dissing homies, strained relationships, extreme drug use and hitting up major parties littered themselves all over the place.

Arguably without a doubt Devil is Kid Rock’s finest work. On a routine jog this morning to go check out the awesome-packed Iron Man, I threw this album on randomly just to hear some tunes I hadn’t heard in a while. It’s been years, but the intro to “Bawitdaba” still kicks ass. There are a lot of detractors out there against Kid Rock, but there’s no argument here that this album is awesome. Kid Rock truly knew how to utilize heavy metal guitars and drums over thick, fiery lyrics coming at the ears of a million listeners. “Bawitdaba” still has that incendiary delivery of a musical haymaker to the head. Lyrically, Rock attacks his detractors, proclaims his right to speak his mind and sends up love for his “homies in the county in cell block six.”

The other blockbuster hit, “Cowboy” follows and shows a nice change of pace. While Rock is able to combine the efforts of country, rap and southern rock, he paints a nice dream of owning a yacht to sail upon the coast as well as all the while aspire to be that outlaw cowboy. The album stays pretty solid with the next cuts “Devil Without A Cause (featuring the late Joe C.), “I Am The Bullgod” (a direct tribute to stoner metal gods Monster Magnet), “Roving Gangster (Rollin’)” and the Motown send-up “Wasting Time.”

The album ends with the heartfelt ballad “Only God Knows Why” which gives the album a nice contrast to the overall rap/rock feel and gives Rock quite a bit of credibility over some of his contemporaries at the time. It took on a new meaning after 9/11 as it became an anthem for the tragedy and rightfully so.

With the closing number “Fuck Off” with a duet from a then-unknown fellow Detroit rapper named Eminem, the song is not only incredibly scathing and acidic in its lyrical attack, it also proves to be one of the heaviest tunes on the album. Devil closes with the lyrically strong “Black Chick, White Guy” as Rock paints a whole world of hate, hardship and despair against the backdrop of hope. It’s a truly perfect bookend to a great slice of 90’s rap/rock.

Given Rock’s recent forays into the world with his musical direction in country music as well as his publicized feuds with the law and relationship/marriage to Pamela Anderson, Devil resembles a document of the things yet to come. What teenager in America wasn’t blaring “Bawitdaba” over the summer of 1998 and toasting with bottles of Surge and Fruit Roll-Ups? I have yet to find one.

Alex Young
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