Kid Rock's horndog jams made so much sense in 1998, when revelry was in the air and even the President was living like a rock star. Back then, Rock was a leering sign of the times. Amid a booming economy in which Internet startups made tons of twentysomething tech geeks unlikely millionaires, he was the most improbable success story of them all: a Budweiser-swilling gene splice between Hank Williams Jr. and MC Run, whose mangy coif looked to be trimmed with a Toro. He was a living, belching embodiment of the American dream, just when that dream was most attainable. Rock tapped into all these good vibes as he had countless kegs, and he threw a party for everyone: hillbillies, hip-hoppers, and headbangers alike. His mishmash of metal pyrotechnics, old-school rap bravado, and Southern rock sentimentality was pointedly inclusive, and it led to one multicultural mosh pit.
But just as the elation of the late '90s has subsided and the dot-commers have gone kaput, so has Kid Rock's momentum. After selling over 10 million copies of his breakout Devil Without a Cause, he barely went platinum with his follow-up, Cocky. Sure, the unease that's hung over the country of late probably has something to do with the album's slow start, but more likely it's a reflection of how uninspired the record sounds; it's too much of the same thing: lots of Tarzan-style chest pounding, lots of Dr. Seuss rhymes, and more bad taste than a month at Denny's.