One of the many mouths of Detroit is back motoring again. The brash bravado that is Kid Rock is back once more to share tales of carnal conquest, copious cocaine consumption, the delights of drinking and his trademark self-aggrandizement. Cocky is the follow up to 1998″s Devil Without a Cause. While it is a successor, it is not a sequel. Three years on the road and hobnobbing with his former idols, now cohorts i.e. Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd has taught the Kid a little more about Rock.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of VH1

The engine that drove Devil Without a Cause to its multi-platinum status is lodged deep within Cocky”s frame but the fixtures around the trailer are different this time around. Public domain metal riffs a la “Bawitdaba” roar in the first half of the CD, most prominently on the album”s first single “Forever.” The album”s title track “Cocky” is the epitome of what Rock fans have come to expect, with big drums in the verse before the onslaught of fuzz blade guitars carrying Kid Rock”s swaggering vocals like a high tide as he sings “They Say I”m Cocky/and I say what?/it ain”t bragging motherfucker if you back it up.” Classic Rock gives way to the new, two parts “Only God Knows Why” to every part “American Badass.” “Lonely Road of Faith” unveils the new country/folk sound layered with acoustic guitars and plaintive pianos mixed with a dash of falsetto harmonies. To ease the listener into the new sound, “Lonely Road” changes pace halfway through, morphing into another rap/rock combo. But bluegrass boogie bubbles up again on “Midnight Train to Memphis” but is yet again quelled by the Kid”s urge to rock halfway through. The plangent melody of “I”ve lost another good one/she”s on the midnight train to Memphis” turns into the pimp”s proverb of “fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch.” Rock”s inability to commit to a style is both jarring and disappointing, ruining a perfectly good bluegrass tune with rap or vice versa.

Rock makes gallant strides forward away from the limiting and dying genre of rap/rock, distancing himself from acts like P.O.D. and Limp Bizkit, who are content with living within the cramping confines of rapcore. Using his voice for singing instead of just rapping and taking his hands off his crotch long enough to lay down some dirty south blues on the guitar distinguishes Kid Rock from to the one-dimensional artists littered all over the Billboard charts. Growth is apparent, but so are growing pains. Bi-polar disorder compromises the continuity of too many of the tracks, derailing solid songs into disarray. Cocky has a bunch of good but ill-fitted ideas, but if Rock decides to pursue his heart”s musical desires and continues to learn from the rock icons he now calls friends, he will truly have something to be cocky about.

Grade: C-

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