Music on the Road
Kid Rock gets 'Cocky'
By Rachel Wells
CNN Entertainment News
(CNN) - Kid Rock, the self-appointed founder of a music genre he calls "hick-hop," is rolling out his latest album.
The follow-up to 1998's 10 million seller "Devil Without a Cause," "Cocky" finds Kid Rock -- a.k.a. Bob Ritchie -- tipping his requisite black hat to country and blues influences. He teams up with friends like Sheryl Crow and Snoop Dogg, and writes about life since "Devil Without a Cause" solidified him as an all-American rock star. Beer, trucks, big bucks and his girlfriend, actress Pamela Anderson, are his lyrical inspirations.
We caught up with the Detroit-born and based honky-tonk rapper to ask him about Pamela Anderson, American patriotism, and his "Cocky" state of mind.
CNN: When the naval ship USS Cole pulled out of Yemen a few days after being attacked by a suspected terrorist bomb last year (October 2000), we all watched the sailors blast your song, "American Badass," as they left. How did you feel watching that?
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KR: That just gives you that warm feeling in your heart. It's amazing. It's an amazing thing when someone embraces a song like that. It's got so much attitude. Obviously, you know, they were playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and a lot of patriotic stuff, but those guys were pissed off. They just lost their buddies, their good friends. And to kind of put their middle finger in the air as they were pulling out of Yemen and play "American Badass" was the greatest thing in the world.
CNN: What special appeal is it that you seem to have with American servicemen and servicewomen?
KR: Because I call it like I see it. I tell people exactly how it is. I appreciate the freedoms that I have and, you know, I've always been a pretty patriotic person and I believe in America and it's the best country in the world. And that's obviously what they're out fighting for. So they know that I have that respect. É It's funny, everyone's out looking for American flags and I got an 80-footer. I got an 80 foot one.
CNN: You said your last album, "Devil Without a Cause," was a "forecast." You were writing all about being a big star, a big rich guy, and you didn't know a thing about that life. Now that you do know about the trappings of being a wealthy celebrity, what are you writing about now on this new album?
KR: "Cocky" is just something kind of fun. ÉI look at it like Muhammad Ali. How entertaining was it to watch that guy! "I'm the prettiest, I'm the greatest!" I think that's what people look for (in) me. I'm an entertainer. I believe I'm very good at what I do. So I go out there and say like, "Yeah, I'm the best and I'll show you why." Anyone that has confidence ... like Babe Ruth you know -- points his bat and says he's going to hit it out of the park -- and he does! Pow! And you love him even more for that.
CNN: How is this album different than what we may have come to expect from Kid Rock?
KR: "Cocky" is a lot of stories about the road; what that's like. Rather than a forecast like "Devil Without a Cause." It's kind of "This is where I'm at," you know. This is all for real. This record is everything you would expect from Kid Rock, which is basically not to know what to expect and to expect and nothing and everything at the same time, because I blend so many musical styles. There is a heavy blues folk country undertone to a lot of the songs. But that's always been in great music like the Beatles and the (Rolling) Stones. I think that's been missing from American music for a while. Sometimes I listen to these rock songs and I'm like "Why can't these guys have a little blues influence?" Like, go get a Chuck Berry record or something and just pull some of that greatness of music that originated here, down in The Delta, and bring it on. So hopefully, it turns kids on to different music and hopefully I'll open them up to that. There is more to the world than Kid Rock and Britney Spears.
CNN: Why do you consistently infuse so much of Detroit into your lyrics?
KR: I just feel real strongly that people should be proud of who they are and where they come from. I think that gives us character and backbone as individuals. And I say it quite a bit. I don't think there's any question, you know, that I am from Detroit. I remain there, I will remain there. And I'm very proud of it.
CNN: The video for "Forever," the first single, you shot that in Detroit, right?
KR: Yeah. I think people have seen me enough to know what I do, what my talents are, how I jump around, what my appeal is entertainment-wise. They've seen it enough. It's getting a little old. So, I thought this time let's just make it about the people of Detroit. I always say this is my house, but it was built by a lot of hands. People in Michigan have been supporting me for a lot of years, coming to my shows, buying my independent records. And I knew if we just invited them out to like a tailgate party and said, you know, "Do whatever you want," we'd get some really cool stuff -- and we did.
CNN: Your girlfriend, Pamela Anderson, is featured prominently in the video. When Pamela visits Detroit, taking Pamela to Detroit -- can you go anywhere there with her? Where do you go with her?
KR: We've been everywhere. We've been grocery shopping. We've been to Tigers' games and (to) Northern Michigan tubing with the kids. I live in a very small town and it's no big deal.
CNN: In general, who is your audience?
KR: My audience, I've seen it's an older crowd. It's little older than people would think. They think it's all 15-year-old kids jumping around with black hats on. But it's not. It's amazing. I see a lot of parents and their kids. As crazy as it sounds, it almost is a family show. As long as you know, you can tolerate the language. I got a problem with the "F" word, I'm the first to admit. If you can get past that, it really is a good show.
CNN: What's your favorite track on the album?
KR: I really like, "What I learned on the Road." It's got everything in it. It's got the rap. It's got the great melody and the great singing. I think it's just one of those songs that will stand the test of time. There's some songs I just make for fun and I know that they might not be around for five years. But then I do try to make some songs that hopefully will live on for a long time.
CNN: You worked with Sheryl Crow on one track.
KR: That was a lot of fun. She's an incredible talent. And to be able to work with someone of that caliber of talent that she has. It's really fun to work with people that are talented. And she's one of the most talented people out there today.
CNN: The song you sing with her, "Picture" -- you actually hear your singing voice on there. You can sing, not just yell?
KR: Yeah, she makes me sing better, you know.
CNN: Are you better in a show than you are in a studio?
KR: Yeah. They both have their place. But I'm definitely a player and I like to get out there and do it live. You just have so much more freedom than (you do) being contained to a record with 13 tracks and song structures that (each) have to be three or four minutes (long). You know, having the freedom to do it live and having the freedom to get out there and really entertain and doing it live is what I like to do.
CNN: Are you going on tour?
KR: We got some tour plans (for the) end of January; head out on that lost highway, couple of laps around the world. And I'm gonna (sic) try one thing this time. I'm gonna (sic) take some corporate sponsorship, completely sell out, for one reason: Ticket prices are out of hand. And these acts out here charging these $50-60 tickets (prices), even $40 you know, not thinking about the people that have jobs. You know, take your girlfriend to a concert or whatever and a couple hundred bucks, two, three hundred bucks later. That's a lot of money to a lot of people. I'd like to go out and play for a $25 ticket.
CNN: What will you be doing when you're 60 or 70 years old?
KR: Ah, that's scary. I think I'll be sitting around bald with a case of Budweiser on my porch yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. Hopefully, I'll be married happily with some grandkids, just enjoying life, passing the stories down generation to generation.
CNN: Will you sing? Will you do a reunion tour or two?
KR: I don't think so. I like to prepare myself now that this might not last. I might not be around forever. I might just be the thing of the moment. I'd like to prepare myself to be able to walk away while I'm on top and make some room for some of the young cats to come up.