Kid Stuff

He's just a bad boy from the burbs who never learned to play well with others

Kid Rock, it's time you and I had a talk. I'm not here to blow sunshine up your ass; I don't work for Rolling Stone. It's high time we addressed the elephant in the living room; you know, the one that everyone knows is there but refuses to acknowledge.

Thing is, Kid, you're an idiot. I don't care that you've gone platinum seven times or that your mug on the cover of has-been music mags helps make rich industry mooks even richer. I find your presence on this planet extremely disturbing for a number of reasons, and I don't really know whom to blame.

But before I get ahead of myself, let's begin at the beginning. Ten years ago you were a 20-year-old suburban kid from Michigan -- Romeo, Michigan, to be exact, which is not quite the "Detroit" that you claim -- with a ridiculous flattop reminiscent of Kid 'N Play. Having already explored a career as a petty drug dealer, you decided to recast yourself as a self-styled white rapper, although one with, at the time, less success than others of that odious ilk, like Vanilla Ice and Snow. Your Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast (Jive Records, 1990) went nowhere fast, and you were promptly dropped by Jive. Your next two albums, The Polyfuze Methodand Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp, were influenced by your drug habit and were so bad, musically speaking, that it makes me angry to listen to them. What a waste of time and money.

Kid Rock: He gives white trash a bad name.
Clay Patrick McBride
Kid Rock: He gives white trash a bad name.

Yet somehow you got signed to Atlantic -- probably after a bargain similar to Faust's. And as you predicted on the title track of Devil Without a Cause, you went platinum, mostly on the strength of "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy" and the painfully earnest ballad "Only God Knows Why" (which you began writing after spending the night in jail). Last year you released the pointless The History of Rock, which combines a few new tracks with remixed and rerecorded cuts from your second and third albums. Why? Because you knew it would make you even more loot. To paraphrase you back to yourself: Isn't money the right reason to do everything?

So you signed a deal with the devil. Now I have to watch you sing into that damned voicebox thing on Saturday Night Live. Or see you in that ridiculous pimp fur coat and hat, flanked by bikini-clad skanks on the MTV Video Music Awards. Or cringe while you lament the late Joe C. on the American Music Awards in a memorial to actual musicians who passed away in 2000.

You, of course, have done nothing to harm me personally; it's what you stand for that makes me want to whip you silly.

You're obnoxious.You want to give the world a big "fuck you." Why? Because your somewhat wealthy father made you mow the yard when you were a kid? Because an ex-girlfriend fucked you over? Get over it. Most of us don't feel the need to flip the bird at every person who did us wrong. And certainly, unlike you, most of us cannot fuck over our employer and still draw a paycheck. We cannot rent a stretch Hummer, at $150 an hour, keep it out all night and stick Atlantic with the bill. Life must be a bitch for you.

You're a pig. You call people fags and micks. You claim to "lick more coochie than k.d. lang" and brag that you get more pussy than Sugar Ray. You call women "hoes." Why is this okay? You claim that you're not racist or homophobic or misogynistic -- just that you're not politically correct. But you miss the point: We're not talking about political correctness; we're talking about basic human respect.

You're an opportunist.Your employment of Joe C., the diminutive rapper whose growth was stunted by a digestive disease, was the kind of exploitation usually reserved for traveling freak shows. He, of course, was smart enough to know the score; I somehow doubt you ever did. In his final interview (Spin, February 2001), he said, "Kid Rock saw me and saw my size could be exploited….He saw dollar signs -- bottom line."

Your music sucks. This is the kicker. Music is inspiration; it's about finding that sweet spot, what my colleague calls the Golden Note -- the musical moment that creates instantaneous joy, brings a tear to your eye or a smile to your face. Your "music" doesn't do any of that. It's just pandering to the brain-dead suburban druggies who hate the world because life doesn't measure up to their overinflated expectations. You perpetuate the myth of "white trash," a concept that is the last socially acceptable form of racism in this society. And it's earned you millions.

But people respond to you, which means you're not solely to blame. You came in with your macho swagger at the tail end of the sad-eyed sensitive-boy era of rock, and people who were tired of moping snapped to attention. The problem is, you want to be the heir to the David Lee Roth Cock-Rock Throne, but you'll never wear that crown. First off, your music will never be as listenable as Van Halen's once was (and can still be, on occasion). Second, Roth is way more ballsy and intelligent than you could ever hope to be; he knows he's a joke, and he works it.

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