Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kid Rock -- "Cowboy" (1998)

I'm not straight outta Compton
I'm straight outta the trailer

Kid Rock (who was born Robert James Ritchie in a Detroit suburb in 1971) became a rap music fan at a very tender age.  When he was a teenager, he spent many nights attending hip-hop shows in Detroit.  Often he was the only white kid in the audience.

Detroit has not only generated many great popular musicians (several of whom are featured in this month's "29 Songs in 28 Days"), but also has generated popular musicians who remain loyal to Detroit -- despite the fact that Detroit is probably the most unattractive and uninviting major city in the United States.

White residents began to desert Detroit for the suburbs more than four decades ago, and many black middle-class residents have followed them.  Today, Detroit has more than 30,000 abandoned houses, but doesn't have the money to tear them down.  

Nor does the city have the resources to hire enough police to effectively patrol the worst neighborhoods.  One policeman told a local TV station that when he joined the Detroit police department 13 years ago, he was responsible for patrolling a 3.6-square-mile area, and bumped into another officer every 20 minutes. Now he covers 22 square miles and crosses paths with other officers about every two hours.

Body found frozen in ice in
abandoned Detroit warehouse
As a result, the abandoned and neglected neighborhoods in Detroit have become dumping grounds for dead bodies. Criminals don't need to drive miles out into the country to dispose of murdered bodies -- there are plenty of deserted blocks in central Detroit where it's safe to dump corpses.

Click here to read a Detroit News story about the dead body in the above photo.

Kid Rock can afford to live anywhere he wants.  But he maintains two residences in the Detroit area -- one in an outer suburb and one near downtown.  He is hugely popular in Detroit.  (He also has a house in Malibu and a house on the east coast of Florida.)

Kid Rock's first three albums were only mildly successful.  But his 1998 album, Devil Without a Cause, was a huge success.

Devil Without a Cause is often described as "rap rock" or "rap metal" music.  Perhaps the original rap rock/rap metal record was the 1986 remake of "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C.  Other bands that are often classified as rap rock/rap metal artists include Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, P.O.D., Cypress Hill, and Insane Clown Posse.

I remember when the first track from Devil Without a Cause -- "Bawitdaba" -- was released as a single.  It was a real attention-getter.  I had never heard anything like it, and neither had you.  

The chorus absolutely demanded that you sing along -- assuming you could figure out what the hell he was saying:

Da bang da bang 
Diggy diggy diggy 
Said the boogie
Said up jump the boogie

"Cowboy," the next single from Devil Without a Cause, was a slightly more traditional-sounding song.  The protagonist of "Cowboy" declares his intention to move to Los Angeles and become a successful pimp, which will provide him with plenty of money and sufficient free time to pursue his hobbies -- especially drinking and checking out women.

"Cowboy" gives a shout-out to Heidi Fleiss, the infamous "Hollywood Madam," who claims she made a million bucks in her first four months as a 24-year-old madam to the stars.  Fleiss's pandering conviction was overturned on appeal due to jury misconduct, but she served 20 months in a federal prison for tax evasion.

Heidi Fleiss and friend
Fleiss later moved to Pahrump, Nevada, where she once planned to open a legal brothel but settled for owning a laundromat (the aptly-named "Dirty Laundry").  She kept as many as 25 parrots in her Pahrump house.  

Fleiss was one of the substance abusers filmed for Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.  Based on brain scans, Dr. Drew Pinsky concluded that Fleiss had significant frontal lobe dysfunction that explained her affinity for birds instead of people.

The lyrics quoted at the beginning of this post reference the groundbreaking N.W.A. album, Straight Outta Compton, which was the first true gangsta rap album.  Of course, Kid Rock -- a white guy from Detroit -- doesn't come straight outta Compton, a city in southern Los Angeles County that has more than its share of gang violence.  Kid Rock comes straight outta the trailer park.

According to a story about him in the November 19, 2012 New Yorker, Kid Rock "recently invested in a luxury trailer in southern Alabama."  I guess you can take the boy outta the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park outta the boy.

Mr. and Mrs. (briefly) Kid Rock
You may not be a fan of his music, and you may not approve of his behavior (which includes drinking to excess, a brief marriage to Pamela Anderson, an appearance in a sex tape, and several arrests for assault and battery  -- one of those arrests followed a 2007 brawl at a Waffle House, which is sooooo perfect).  

But you have to admit that Kid Rock was listening when Polonius said "to thine own self be true."  He is perhaps the least affected of all rock stars.  From what I've read, he doesn't have a phony bone in his body -- and you can't say that about too many other recording artists who have been as successful as he has. 

Here's the music video for "Cowboy," which features cameos by the late Gary Coleman (star of Diff'rent Strokes) and porn star Ron Jeremy:

Click here to buy Devil Without a Cause from Amazon:

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