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Kid, Rock

Kid Rock

Rap/rock artist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Part old school rap, part metal rock, and likened to rap artist Eminen for his often profane lyrics, as well as for his roots near Detroit, Michigan, Kid Rock proved that he stood apart from the hiphop crowd with his wild and diverse music. In fact, Rock (born Robert Ritchie), with his skillful heavy metal guitar playing, shares more in common musically with metal assault groups such as Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit. For example, as described by Mark Seliger in Rolling Stone magazine, the single Bawitdaba from 1998s Devil Without a Cause mixes cries of up jump the boogie with guitar aggression, coming off like a White Zombie [rock metal band] cover of a Grandmaster Flash [funk group] song. And the Atlantic Records website concluded, Kid Rock unleashes the fullon motherlode: a rambunctious cocktail shaker of blueeyed hiphop, freestyle rap. spacedout funk, psychedelic rock, jazz, blues and everything else under the sun up to and including the proverbial kitchen sink.

When the rap/rock star boasted Im going platinum in the title track of Devil Without a Cause (a phrase that record company executives tried to persuade him to remove), he must have somehow known thatthis confident statement would become a reality. Moreover, the success of Devil Without a Cause eventually surpassed this prediction, going triple platinumfollowing his crowdpleasing show for the music festival Woodstock and headlining with Limp Bizkit for a worldwide tour in 1999. After this, his music was featured on popular television shows such as MTVs Beach House, ESPNs XGames, and ABCs Wild World Of Sports. Priortothesuccess of album My big feat before that had been selling 14,000 records out of my basement, he admitted to Seliger. Furthermore, Rock became the first white hiphop artist to embrace and glorify white trash culture and to gain the respect of several African American rap artists, namely Sean Puffy Combs and Ice Cube, as well as heavy metal bands like as Metallica.

While Kid Rock seemed to personify the socalled white trash culture, his true background proved otherwise. He actually grew up in a more affluent environment, faraway from the trailer park world he glorifiedsin his songs. Rock, born Robert Ritchie (known as Bob tof riends) around 1972, spent his childhood in the rural town of Romeo, Michigan, near Detroit, in a lakefront home with six acres of land. Rocks chores at home included mowing the lawn, picking apples from the family orchard, and feeding the horses. His mother, Susan Ritchie, stayed at home with her three children: Rock, older brother Billy, and older sister Carol. And his gregarious father, Bill Ritchie, owned a successful business.

Nonetheless, Rocks childhood was not as happy as one might expect. Throughout his upbringing until the time he

For the Record

Born Robert (Bob) Ritchie in Romeo, MI, c. 1972; son of Bill and Susan Ritchie; two siblings: older brother Billy and older sister Carol; children: son Robert Ritchie, Jr. (known as Junior).

Started as DJ at parties and clubs throughout high school in and around Detroit, MI; made demo tape, signed with Jive Records, released first album, Grit Sandwiches for Breakfast, 1990; toured with Ice Cube and Too $hort, 1990; debut record failed in sales and Jive dropped Rock from label, C 1991; released two albums and one EP on independent labels, including The Polyfuze Method, 1992; Fire It Up EP, 1994; Early Morniri Stoned, 1996; signed with Atlantic Records, c. 1997; released Devil Without a Cause, which later reached tripleplatinum status, 1998; performed at music festival Woodstock, toured worldwide with Limp Bizkit, 1999.

Addresses: Home Royal Oak, MI. Record company Atlantic Records, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 900, Los Angeles, CA 90069; 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10104. Website http://www.atlantic-records.com, Kid Rock Official Website: http://www.kidrock.com.

succeeded as a musician, Rock had a troubled past with his father, as documented in his song My Oedipus Complex from the EP Fire It Up. He described his father as a workaholic and an often distant and demanding parent who never approved of Rocks lifestyle and musical pursuits. When his father sold his profitable LincolnMercury car dealership in 1999, hetried one last time to persuade Rock to take over the business and leave music for the weekends. However, Rock and his father, who became less judgmental after Rocks success, finally made peace sometime later that year. With their relationship more or less amended, Rocks father proudly wears a Devil Without a Cause tshirt and calls himself Daddy Rock.

As Rock grew older, he started to develop more urban interests, like break dancing and listening to hiphop records, and often backed out of his duties around the family home. How can I say it? He was original, sister Carol, who manages Rocks finances, told Seliger. He always did what he wanted to do. When Michael Jackson was on TV with his white socks up to here, Bob was upstairs the next day having my mom hem his pants. Music was all he cared about. In addition to hiphop and dance music, Rock also enjoys rockers such as Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as the music of country legends Dwight Yokam and Hank Williams, Jr. Then at around the age of 13 or 14, Rock received his first set of turntables for Christmas from his mother, and soon thereafter, he went to his first party in Detroit with some African American girls from Romeo High School.

At the party, the DJ noticed the only white kid at the party, Rock, eyeing his equipment and let him join in. Consequently, Rocks selftaught scratching so impressed an amateur promoter that he offered Rock a gig to DJ in the Detroit suburb of Mt. Clemens, and before Rock knew it, he was spinning records for allblack crowds around the Detroit area. Atfirst people would be like, Who is this white guy? Rocks friend Chris Pouncy recalled to Seliger. But once they heard him scratch, he always got love in the neighborhood. Inspired by the overwhelming acceptance, Rock earned enough money picking apples at home to upgrade his equipment and also added rapping to his DJ shows.

By now a wellknown name around Detroit, some local dealers helped Rock finance a demo tape on the condition that he mention their names in his songs. Subsequently, he signed a deal with Jive Records and released his first album in 1990, Grit Sandwiches for Breakfast, a Beastie Boyssounding record with explicit lyrics. The exposure also landed him spots to perform with rap artist Ice Cube and the rap group Too Short. Although Rock thought he had broken into the music industry, the release failed to sell, and Jive dropped the young rapper from the label.

Much of the remainder of the 1990s saw Rock making albums for independent labels, including 1992s The Polyfuze Method, which featured Rocks growing musical ability with countryinspired rapping alongside rock guitar riffs; 1994s Fire It Up EP, a predominantly metal rock release; and 1996s Early Mornin Stoned, which included contributions from Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch and the vocals of soul singer Thornetta Davis. This album, financed by a loan from Rocks father, drew critical acclaim and caught the attention of the major label Atlantic Records. When company executives came to see one of Rocks shows, they signed him immediately. During this time, Rock also added more rock influences to his songs and assembled his backing group called the Twisted Brown Trucker Band, which featured guitarists Kenny Olson and Jason Krause, keyboardist Jimmie Bones, drummer Stefanie Eulinberg, and Rocks midget sidekick Joe C. In addition, his best friend, Matt Shafer learned to use the turntables from Rock and later joined the group as DJ Kracker.

Enthusiastic about his major label contract, Rock then set out to write and record his next release. But from the start, Rock experienced problems with writers block and in working with Atlantic, who wanted him to focus more on rock rather than rap, for the Devil Without a Cause album. Even though they were tellin me I could do anything I wanted, they still wanted it a certain way, he revealed to Hobey Echlin in Alternative Press. The first time I turned in Cowboy, I said, This is the best song Ive ever written. I sent it in, and they [Atlantic] told me they didnt hear it. As a result of Atlantics lack of support, Rocks writers block persisted and worsened. After traveling with pal DJ Crackerto Memphis and New Orleans in search of musical inspiration and arriving back in Detroit with nothing, Rock was left with just one more week to complete the album.

In spite of the battle between Rock and Atlantic, he finally determined to make the music he wanted, as he told Echlin. I thought about everything Id been through in the last 10 years; all the music Id made. And I thought, Well, what the label wants is something I can do. But I made what I wanted to. Therefore, with his intentions set, he completed the music in the remaining week, complete with a sample from classic rock group Fleetwood Mac for the track Wastin Time. And although his label again thought the finished product seemed too allovertheplace and pleaded with him to cut out the line Im going platinum from Devil Without a Cause, Rock stood by his former decision, and the album reached record stores in the late summer of 1998.

After songs from Devil Without a Cause, including the hits Bawitdaba and the countryrap influenced Cowboy, played on the radio and videos aired on MTV, millions of kids across the United States became instant followers of Rock. Soon, Rock saw his platinum dream come true, followed by sales reaching double platinum, then triple platinum levels after his notable performance at Woodstock in the summer of 1999. Many agreed that Rock stole the show at Woodstock as he took the stage with a fur coat, covered Creedance Clearwater Revivals Fortunate Son, and played guitar riffs from Lynyrd Skynyrds Sweet Home Alabama during Cowboy. Rocktold Seliger, Everyones trying to do something special for Woodstock. I covered every base I thought I was good at. It solidified ten years of hard work for me. During Rocks worldwide tour with rock group Limp Bizkit beginning in the late summer of 1999, his flamboyant shows would continue to turn heads and promote further sales of Devil Without a Cause.

Even with his fame and fortune, Rock declined to change his lifestyle, and those who know him insist that his reallife persona doesnt match the swaggering rock star image he displays in public. Instead, Rock made his home in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, where Rock, a single parent, shares a bungalow with his young son, Robert Ritchie, Jr. (known as Junior or June Bug). His sister, Carol, cares for Junior, who was born out of a relationship during Rocks teenage years, when Rock tours. Rockstill drove around town in his soupedup 1983 Coupe de Ville and admitted to Seliger that he does feel like white trash in certain ways, regardless of his more privileged upbringing. I guess I just want to let everybody know its all right to be who you are, its all right where you come from. I do feel like white trash. I am technically. I like to drink beers, smoke Im not trying to date the prom queen.

Selected discography

Grit Sandwiches For Breakfast, Jive, 1990.

The Polyfuze Method, Continuum, 1992

Fire It Up (EP), Continuum, 1994.

Early Mornin Stoned, Top Dog, 1996.

Devil Without a Cause, Atlantic, 1998.

Sources

Periodicals

Alternative Press, August 1999, pp. 5158.

Rolling Stone, July 822, 1999, p. 98; September 2, 1999, pp. 6972.

Online

Kid Rock, Atlantic Records, http://www.atlantic-records.com (August 27, 1999).

Kid Rock Official Website, http://www.kidrock.com (August 27, 1999).

Laura Hightower

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