Tidal Catalog #29: Kid Rock

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also though that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Flash forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I have ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for great formatting, you know?

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
  • Compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before)

Entrance Point: The first album I had heard from Kid Rock was Devil Without a Cause from back in his rap period. I went backwards and listened to the discs before hand and then once he moved to his rock/country records, I knew the hits and maybe a little more.

All albums ranked on a 10 point scale:

  • Born Free (8)

By the time Born Free came out in 2010, Kid Rock was smack dab in the middle of his second career as Bob Seger, Jr. The rap era was done and he was full on heartland rock at this point. And Born Free represents this era the best. Every single song on the disc is the same tempo – the laid back, sippin’ whiskey on the beach vibe. It’s very listenable even if it’s a bit samey from start to finish. It’s not a highlight of the disc but there is a track called “Collide” which is the 9,000th duet with Sheryl Crow and has a guest spot from…Bob Seger! Now Bob just plays piano on the track which seems like a very weird way to under-utilize him considering that it’s pretty clear he’s making music just like Seger but he’s still on the record, which means Kid Rock probably nutted himself somewhere during the recording of this song.

Editors note: I did this catalog over three years ago now and back then I really thought this was the best disc in the catalog. It’s the most consistent for sure but listening to it again today, I don’t know that I’d give it even an 8. But the rankings are staying the same.

  • Devil Without a Cause (8)

I was music director at WTSR in 1998 when this came across my desk and I loved it. It wasn’t that I was into rap-rock or anything like that but there was something pretty unique about this. A lot of people call this nu-metal but I think that’s a bad label for Kid Rock. Nu-metal is dudes rapping over rock riffs. Rap-rock (or Rap metal) like this is people playing rock under rap. (Okay, I know what you’re thinking….) Korn and Kid Rock are not in the same genre. Korn (for example) were a rock band that added some hip hop elements into their sound. Kid Rock is a rapper that had a rock band behind him. Different things and totally different sound. And that’s what made this disc a bit unique – The Twisted Brown Trucker Band – which amazingly has played with him during his rap period and his country-rock period – but that’s not that far fetched when you hear the music here. Take Uncle Kracker and his turntables out of the mix here and you have what I would almost call rebel country with his band. But for historical purposes, this record has some of the best rap-rock songs ever made. “Bawitdaba” and “I Am the Bullgod” were two great songs at the time and while they are clearly products of their era, I still like them today. And it’s funny looking back in 2020, after Lil Nas X took “Old Town Road” to be the biggest song ever, go back to 1999 and remember that Kid Rock had a major hit with “Cowboy.”

  • Rebel Soul (7.5)
  • Rock N Roll Jesus (7)
  • First Kiss (7)
  • Sweet Southern Sugar (7)
  • Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp (6)
  • The Polyfuze Method (5.5)
  • Live Trucker (5)
  • Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast (4)

I stop here on the trek because it was simply neat to revisit this one as his first record back in 1990 and see where he came from. Frankly, it’s an awful record but it contains one of his most well known songs with the first track, “Yo-Da-Lin in the Valley” (that’s about sex, ya’ll). So Kid Rock was 19 at the time and he sounds every bit of a child. Even today if you presented me some of these songs without telling me who the artist was, I don’t know that I would tell you Kid Rock. His voice sounds so different and underdeveloped that it’s like a different artist. And the beats are very basic, lots of 808s, very late 80s sounding and very poorly produced even though this was released on Jive records. And although rap wasn’t new to Jive, they clearly had no idea what to do with this as it sold 100,000 copies on word of mouth only. It’s an interesting look into his past but one that you only need to go back for if you are crazy like me.

  • Kid Rock (2.5)
  • Cocky (1)

Cocky was the follow up to Devil Without a Cause and an absolute train wreck. This has to be one of the worst follow ups to a major hit record, ever made. Kid Rock had no fucking clue what he wanted to do at this point in his career. The first half of this record is all rap-rock, features many guitar licks that are similar, if not the same, as songs on Devil and played so poorly by the band that you’d think they all had strokes. The second half is filled with a bunch ballads including his major hit and first collaboration with Sheryl Crow, “Picture,” which is a horrible damn track by itself. But he also released the incredibly sappy “Lonely Road of Faith” as a single which is mind blowingly dull. The song that summarizes this album the best is “Midnight Train To Memphis” which starts off as a country ballad that sounds as phoned in as it gets, followed by commentary by David Spade (“dude what station is this, K-Snooze? / Kid Rock, I thought he was the American Bad Ass / he’s putting me to sleep / nudge me if he gets over 5 decibels,” which is then followed by a half ass attempt at turning it into a rap song, which ends up being just as dull as the first half. The David Spade piece was a joke but it hits home perfectly here. Then there’s “WCSR” (World Class Sex Rhymes) which sounds like it belonged on his first record. So many songs, so out of place on this or really any record. In fact, I listened to this album again and I honestly don’t even know why I gave it a “1.” I hadn’t given out a “0” yet and I think I was holding it back for those records that are simply un-fucking-listenable in every single way and “WCSR” does include Snoop Dogg, so maybe he just gets a point for being the OG.

Summary: 12 albums, average: 5.7